Most pets will need to have their teeth cleaned by the time they are three-years-old. By age three, tartar is evident on the teeth, particularly the molars. By this time, gingivitis is most likely present as well, which is the presence of red, swollen gums that are painful.
Pets go under general anesthesia to have their teeth cleaned because they will not tolerate having their teeth cleaned while they are awake. All patients receive a pre-op physical exam which allows us to address any physical concerns prior to anesthesia. They will receive pre-op blood work to check liver, kidney, red blood cells, and blood sugar. We check these levels on the day of the dental to help ensure safe anesthesia.
If any abnormalities are detected, they will be addressed and resolved prior to the dental. Most dental patients have an IV catheter placed prior to anesthesia, except for the healthy, young cats; their medication goes into the muscle. This gives IV access throughout the procedure to administer IV fluids and/or medication. All patients are intubated (tube placed in the windpipe) and maintained on gas anesthesia and oxygen. They are monitored throughout the procedure. We also monitor with an EKG, pulse oximeter, blood pressure cuff, and thermometer.
Our patients are placed on a heated table to help maintain body temperature. An experienced certified veterinary technician examines each, individual tooth and measures any pockets. The teeth are hand-scaled, ultrasonically scaled, and then polished. Any abnormalities are checked by Dr. Nelson. If a tooth needs to be removed, a nerve block is administered and Dr. Nelson will remove the tooth. Our dental patients are given antibiotics and pain relief if extractions are performed. Our dental patients come in the morning and are able to go home in the afternoon.