What to Expect from a Veterinary Dental Procedure

Source: Canadian Veterinary Medical Association Updated on July 16, 2015
Dental

Here are some things to expect as you prepare your pet for a dental procedure:

  • Pre-anesthetic evaluation conducted a few days prior to (or on the morning of) the procedure. Tests selected for the evaluation will vary depending on the pet’s health, age, and other factors.
  • Each patient is different and each owner-animal relationship is unique.Therefore, at admission, the owner should expect to spend some time discussing the tentative treatment plan with the veterinarian so that everyone understands what is planned and why. At this point, a detailed estimate and consent form will be generated and the owner asked to provide a consenting signature.
  • Prior to the procedure, the patient will be anesthetized to allow a safe and complete assessment and treatment of the oral cavity. This should include detailed probing and charting of all abnormalities and intra-oral dental radiographs (X-rays) to assess the roots and surrounding bone. If the detailed examination reveals unexpected problems, the veterinarian will contact the pet owner to explain the new problem and outline the revised treatment plan and estimate. Therefore, the owner should make sure to be available by telephone throughout the day of the procedure.
  • All mineral deposits (tartar) and plaque (a bacterial slime coating the teeth) will be removed from the crowns, and more importantly from below the gum line through a procedure known as scaling and polishing. This procedure is often carried out by a veterinary technician.
  • If any teeth require removal (extraction), local anesthetic nerve blocks can be used to allow for a lighter plane of general anesthesia as well as for pre-emptive pain management, which means using pain medicine to prevent pain from developing. Extraction sites will be stitched closed with absorbable material to allow for rapid recovery and healing.
  • At discharge, all problems and treatments will be reviewed with the owner and post-operative instructions outlined.

For complicated dental procedures or conditions, a patient may be referred to a veterinary dental specialist.

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