Periodontal disease is the most common disease of dogs and cats and is the most frequent cause of tooth loss. The following information is designed to help you make an informed decision regarding your petís oral health care. After reading this information, if you still have questions, please donít hesitate to ask any one of our staff.
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What causes periodontal disease?
The ultimate cause of periodontal disease is bacteria. All dogs and cats have oral bacteria present in their mouths. The warm, moist environment of your pet's mouth is an ideal environment for bacteria to multiply. As the number of bacteria increases, it mixes with saliva and food particles to create plaque on your pet's teeth. As the bacteria continue to grow, the plaque becomes thicker and starts to produce an acidic waste product that damages the periodontal tissues and allows bacteria that are not normally present to proliferate. Over time, if this plaque is not removed, it begins to calcify and form calculus.
Gingivitis, or reddened, swollen gums, is the initial phase of periodontal disease. If caught early enough, it can be reversed by a thorough cleaning and antibiotics. If left alone, however, the gums will start to recess and cause pockets around the teeth, which allow even more bacteria to invade your pet's system. These bacteria, now living in a place so close tot he already irritate capillary beds, now have access to your pet's bloodstream. Once the bacteria enter the bloodstream, it can cause a variety of different medical issues ranging from a compromised immune system to diseases of the heart, liver, and kidneys.
If left untreated, gingivitis will progress to periodontitis. Toxins from the white blood cells trying to fight off the bacteria in the area cause the tissues that hold the teeth in place to weaken and eventually lose their grip on the teeth. This is the point where your pet's teeth will loosen and eventually fall out if not treated. Periodontitis is irreversible, but we can stop the progression by performing a thorough dental cleaning, prescribing antibiotics, and following up with a dental home care plan.
Unfortunately, unlike humans, pets require anesthesia in order to perform a thorough cleaning on their teeth. The good news is that the anesthetics that are available to us today are very safe. While no anesthetic is completely risk-free, we can reduce the risks by doing lab work prior to anesthetic to screen your pet for any underlying diseases that may interfere with the safe administration of anesthesia. While it is your decision whether or not to have pre-anesthetic blood work performed on your pet, we highly recommend it, especially in middle-aged and older pets that have not had any blood work performed in the last six months. The type of lab work we do will depend on your pet's age and overall physical health. If you choose to have this blood work done, we request that you schedule an appointment at least 24 hours prior to the scheduled surgery. so that we can have results back before the procedure. We do have testing available that we can perform the morning of the dental, but we receive more information when we have time to send it to an outside lab.
Whether you choose to do pre-anesthetic blood work or not, your pet will receive a thorough physical exam prior to any anesthetic given. If one of our doctors finds anything on physical exam or in the lab work that indicates an increased anesthetic risk to your pet, you will be called and the options discussed with you before we continue with the procedure. One option the doctor may recommend is intravenous fluid administration to keep your pet hydrated and better able to process the anesthetic.
In addition to these safeguards prior to anesthetic, your pet's heart rate and breathing will be constantly monitored during the anesthetic so that we are always aware of how they are reacting to the anesthetic agent. Your pet will also be placed on a circulating warm water-heating pad to maintain their body temperature. After the procedure, we will continue to closely monitor your pet until they make a smooth transition back to consciousness. a registered veterinary technician will sit with your pet until they are awake and fully aware of their surroundings.
While we cannot guarantee that your pet will not have an adverse reaction to the anesthetic agent, we do everything possible to prevent any complications and in our experience have found adverse anesthetic reactions to be a rare occurrence.
Once your pet is under anesthetic, we will use a hand instrument to remove any large pieces of calculus on the teeth. Next, we use an ultrasonic scaler that uses air pressure to make tiny vibrations that clean off the remaining calculus and plaque. A steady stream of water always accompanies the use of the ultrasonic scaler to clear any debris away and to ensure that the teeth do not get too hot from the vibrations. The scaler has various tips, which can be used on all surfaces of the teeth as well as under the gums if needed. Once cleaned, the teeth will all be evaluated and treated as necessary. The doctor may recommend dental x-rays or extractions. If you have not pre-approved these prior to the cleaning, we will make every attempt to reach you to get your approval. If we are unable to reach you and do not have prior permission, we will not perform any alternate procedures on your pet.
After a thorough cleaning, we will polish the teeth with a high-speed polisher and a fine pumice to buff out any small etchings that may have been caused by the cleaning and to get the teeth as smooth as possible. If any pockets have been found in the gums around the teeth, we will flush them out with an antibacterial solution.
You will be given the option of having a sealant applied to the teeth when the cleaning is finished. We will dry the teeth with a machine similar to a glue gun and apply a wax that will adhere to the teeth. A sealant, followed up with home care, will help reduce the time in between dentals for your pet by keeping the bacteria away from the teeth and gum line. The sealant works best if you continue to apply it on a weekly basis from the kit that we send home with you.
Just like people, pets have a variety of factors that determine how quickly they accumulate the plaque that leads to dental disease. Some of these factors, such as the alignment of the teeth and how close the teeth are to each other, we cannot control. Other factors, such as diet and home dental care like brushing or using an oral rinse, we can control. Therefore it depends on your pet's genetic makeup, as well as how much time you are willing to put into keeping their mouth clean. We can discuss with you many different options for dental home care and find th best one that works for you and your pet. This way we know we are doing all we are able to keep your pet healthy.
A complete dental cleaning and polishing starts at $230.00 for cats and $285.00 for dogs. This price includes a full physical and oral exam, anesthesia, IV catheter and fluids, and the ultrasonic cleaning and polishing. We do recommend pre-anesthetic blood work be done at least 24 hours prior to the procedure if the pet has not had any run recently. This blood work runs $44-$89, depending on the pet's age and overall health. We always send antibiotics home with dentistry patients, and this will be an additional $15-$30 depending on the weight of your pet. Any extractions that are necessary are done at an additional charge of $20-$100 per tooth, depending on which tooth it is and how long it takes to properly extract it. If needed, pain medication will be prescribed at a cost of $10-$20. The optional application of a barrier sealant to protect the teeth against future build-up is $49.00 and includes an 8-week supply of plaque prevention gel to be applied at home to prolong the benefits of the sealant. If dental x-rays are needed, they are $25 per film. We will only x-ray a tooth if we have your permission and feel that we need more information to make a decision on whether or not a tooth should be extracted or can be saved. Any oral surgery will be quoted on a case by case basis prior to your scheduled procedure. Most routine dentals that we perform run between $250 and $400 depending on the severity of the dental disease. (This typical estimate does not include vaccinations, which must be done prior to surgery if your pet is not current.) The earlier we can clean up the dental calculus before periodontal disease takes hold, the cheaper the procedure will be for you. If you would like a more specific quote based on your individual pet, please feel free to ask one of our medical staff members.
Your pet can have food until 8 p.m. the evening before the cleaning is scheduled. Allowing your pet to have access to water overnight is recommended, however, we ask that you pick up the water bowl first thing in the morning. In order to reduce risks, we need your pet to have an empty stomach for the procedure.
We will need you to bring your pet to the hospital between 7 a.m. and 8 a.m. on the morning the procedure is scheduled. You will need to answer some brief questions about your pet's health and any medications they are taking, sign an authorization form, and leave us with a phone number at which you can be reached in case we need to contact you during the procedure. You will be asked about your pet's vaccine history if we have not done the vaccines at our hospital. If another veterinarian gave your pet vaccines, please bring documentation of this to your check-in. We will also ask if you wish to do pre-anesthetic blood work if it has not already been done. If someone who is not familiar with your pet will be checking them in the morning of the procedure, we will need you to call us ahead of time for a brief intake interview so that we can still get al the information that we need.
If you have indicated that you would like a call when your pet is awake, we will do that as soon as possible after the procedure is completed. Most dental patients are ready to go home after 5 p.m. the same day as the procedure.
We do have boarding available for your convenience in the event that you are unable to bring your pet in or pick your pet up at the requested time.
The most common side effects of anesthetic are drowsiness and nausea. We ask that you refrain from offering your pet food or water until at least half an hour after you return home. Then, offer small amounts of water first, and if there are no signs of nausea your pet can have up to half their normal meal. The following day you can return to the normal feeding schedule. In the event that your pet had to have teeth extracted, you may need to feed a soft diet for about a week following the procedure. Soft diet will be available for purchase when you pick up your pet.
Keep your pet indoors in a quiet environment for the first night they are home. Your pet will be sent home with antibiotics; please give them as directed until they are all gone. If your pet had teeth extracted, you may also be sent home with pain medication to be used as needed for discomfort. If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to give our office a call.
Dental home care will be essential in keeping your pet's teeth and gums clean and free of disease. At your pet's discharge, we will discuss home care options with you. Click here for tips on how to introduce teeth-brushing to your pet.
These are some of the most frequently asked questions concerning a pet's dental cleaning. If you have any additional questions, please feel free to call or contact us at your convenience.