Dentistry FAQs

Dentistry care for pets can be an overwhelming prospect for pet owners. We hope the following FAQs about dentistry can address some of your questions and concerns. Feel free to email us with any additional questions

Isn’t my pet too old for anesthesia and dentistry?
Age is rarely a factor in deciding whether a pet will benefit from dental care. Overall systemic health and cardiovascular health are the most important considerations in anesthetic safety, not age. In fact, most of our patients in need of dental care are older pets and we have found that they do quite well with dental procedures. We do NOT have one-size-fits-all anesthetic protocols. We design anesthetic plans for the individual patient based upon their health, personality, and predicted degree of pain. We also constantly update our anesthetic protocols, drug choices, and pain management options to provide the best care possible. Our goal is to provide a low stress, low pain, and low risk experience for our patients.

Who performs dental procedures at WAH?
Dental procedures are performed by a team consisting of two technicians and one doctor. Our technicians are well-versed in dentistry and attend continuing education programs in dentistry. One technician is responsible for monitoring your pet under anesthesia from the moment of IV catheter placement until extubation. The other technician takes dental X-rays and does the dental charting with the doctor.
The doctors perform the oral exam, dental charting, and oral surgery. Tooth extractions are NEVER done by anyone other than the doctor.

How are dental procedures performed at WAH?
Upon admission to the hospital for dental care procedures, patients are weighed and their vital signs are checked by the surgery technicians. Pre-operative sedation and pain medication is administered to each patient when it is his or her turn for dentistry. This injection is administered after a doctor has done a brief physical exam of the patient. Before IV catheter placement, dogs are taken for a walk and cats are given a comfy bed to hide in. When the pets’ anxiety has decreased because of the medications, we place an IV catheter and induce anesthesia. Anesthetic monitors (blood pressure, pulse-oximeter, end tidal CO2, ECG, and temperature probes) are placed. The anesthetic technician records anesthetic parameters every 5 minutes throughout the procedure.
Dental radiographs are taken and the doctor evaluates the X-rays while doing an oral examination. Clients will receive a personal phone call after the radiographs and oral exam have been performed to discuss our findings and recommendations.
Upon approval of the plan, the doctor will administer nerve blocks and perform any necessary oral surgery, being sure to take post-extraction X-rays to look for remaining tooth roots.
All remaining teeth are scaled and polished and the mouth is rinsed with water and an antiseptic solution. The patient is then recovered from anesthesia and kept warm and comfortable while waking up.
The doctor calls the patient’s owner to report on the procedure, the post-operative care plan, and to determine the best time for the patient to go home.

faqs2What should I expect the night I take my pet home from an anesthetized dental procedure?
Dentistry performed under general anesthesia is a surgical procedure and pet owners should expect their pets to be groggy or out-of-sorts for the first 24 to 48 hours. We utilize pain medications that have sedative properties and can change a pet’s behavior. This is a normal part of anesthesia and pain management that will be short-lived. Some dogs are whiney or restless the first night at home, others are sleepy and not interested in eating. Some cats will pace or be restless, while others will sleep a lot. Many pets will eat very well their first night home, but not quite as well at breakfast the next morning. Stomach upset can be normal, but should be short-lived. We encourage clients to call us first thing in the morning if they have concerns about their pet’s recovery.

How will my pet eat with fewer teeth?
This is a very common question and concern for pet owners. The good news is that dogs and cats do exceedingly well after tooth extractions. We feel that if a tooth has dental disease that is severe enough to require extraction, than the pet is likely not using that tooth to chew because it is a source of pain. When we rid the pet from the pain, they have more comfort with eating. Both dogs and cats that have had all of their teeth extracted are able to eat both dry and canned food with no trouble after their mouths have healed.