What is involved in a professional dental clean?
A veterinary patient needs to be anaesthetised to conduct a proper dental procedure. This also minimises the stress on your pet. In older animals we recommend a pre-anaesthetic blood profile before any anaesthetic, including those required for dental procedures.
After anaesthetic induction, a thorough dental examination is carried out. This involves charting the teeth present and assessing their condition, including the degree of tartar, gingivitis (gum inflammation) and any pockets in the gums around the teeth.
After the teeth are examined, a treatment protocol is designed and commenced. This usually begins with removing tartar above the gum line using a special dental burr. After the visible surface of the teeth is cleaned, tartar is scraped out of gum pockets by hand. The teeth are then polished using a dental polisher and specialised fine grade paste. The dental procedure ends here if dental disease is not severe, however, if extractions are necessary due to advanced periodontal disease, these would then be performed.
When extracting teeth, the incisors are often removed first because they are small, having only one root. However, the canine and larger teeth (premolars and molars) are more complex to remove. They usually require the gum to be elevated from the bone around the tooth first. The bone is then removed by burring with a dental air drill to free the tooth. It is often necessary to cut teeth into root segments using this air drill to allow complete removal of the tooth. The remaining bone is smoothed using another burr and the gums suture closed over the socket. When all the dental work is done, the animal is given an antibiotic injection, then has the face cleaned and dried.
The anaesthetic gas is then turned off, and your pet is allowed to wake up.
Following a professional dental clean, a home care programme is designed for you depending on the severity of your pet's dental disease. This may involve regular tooth brushing, feeding raw meaty bones and/or a special diet. One of our staff will discuss this with you and answer any questions you might have when you come to collect your pet. We perform a progress examination to monitor gum healing 7 days after surgery for any animal that has had extractions. We also recommend all pets be examined 6 months after dental cleaning to determine the effectiveness of your home dental care.
Are there any alternatives to tooth removal?
Newer techniques now allow us to preserve teeth at times rather than remove them (depending upon the amount of disease present). These procedures may involve root canal work or specialised fillings for eroded teeth. Tooth capping can also be performed, but unfortunately man has not yet found materials strong enough to withstand the forces of nature, thus crowns are prone to breaking if bones or sticks are chewed. These complex dental techniques would be conducted by a specialised veterinary dentist.