Your pet’s oral health is linked to his overall health. During your pet’s annual physical exam, an oral exam is usually done. The oral exam is more than just looking at the teeth. It includes looking at the face for any asymmetry, swelling, discharge, or masses. Most dogs and cats allow us to look at their teeth and gums while they are awake. We look at tartar on the teeth, tooth alignment, tooth color, which may indicate a dead tooth, and for the presence of extra teeth or if any teeth are missing, chipped or cracked. When we look at the gums, we are evaluating the gums, inside of the cheeks, and the palate for color, swelling, gum recession, and sensitivity to the touch. We also check for odor. Although many pets tolerate an oral exam well, anesthesia is usually needed to perform a more thorough exam. This would include the evaluation of loose teeth, gingival attachment, infection of the gums and gumline, and possibly radiographs to evaluate the bone and periodontal ligament which is what holds the tooth to the bone. After the oral assessment, the teeth are ultrasonically scaled and polished with a polisher similar to that used by your dentist. Fluoride is applied to help strengthen teeth and prevent future tartar buildup.
When your pet comes to Maple Knoll for dental care, we assess of the oral health of your pet followed by treatment which may include scaling, polishing and more. We will then make recommendations for home care. Prior to anesthesia, a physical exam, a blood test and an ecg are performed to help us decide the best course of anesthesia. An IV is placed through which fluids are administered before, during and after the procedure to ensure your pet is stable. A patient monitor similar to those use in a human hospital is used to monitor the vital signs. The tartar is removed ultrasonically with our state-of-the-art scaler which does not damage the enamel, the protective outer coating of the teeth. We complete the thorough oral examination and determine if any further treatment is needed. Loose, broken or infected teeth may need removal. We can perform simple and surgical extractions if needed. On occasion we may refer you to a veterinary dentist if a more complex procedure such as a root canal is needed and you do not elect to have the tooth extracted. Pain relief and antibiotics are administered by injection and some are also sent home.
Follow up home care is recommended to keep your pet’s mouth healthy. Most dogs and cats need a cleaning once or twice a year starting at age six or seven, some earlier.