Squeaky clean – what is a dental?

When you hear the word “dental” a lot of images may come to mind, especially when it comes to oral care for your pet. While most people don’t get a chance to see one on their pet, this is a step-by step tutorial of what happens during a dental for your furry family member. 

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The pet’s doctor listens to their heart, lungs and respiration rate during the preanesthetic exam. The doctor makes sure your furry family member is healthy and that no new medical issues have arisen that may impact them going under anesthesia. This includes reviewing the pet’s history and verifying any medications.

 

A veterinary technician and veterinary assistant place the IV catheter.

A veterinary technician and veterinary assistant place the IV catheter.

 

The IV catheter is used to administer anesthetic medications before the dental and intravenous fluid therapy through the procedure to support the body's hydration needs.

The IV catheter is used to administer anesthetic medications before the dental and intravenous fluid therapy through the procedure to support the body’s hydration needs.

 

After the anesthetic medications are given, the veterinary technician checks your pet's palpebral reflex (blink reflex) to see if they are sedated enough to be intubated. Intubation involves placing a breathing tube into the airway to protect the lungs and allow delivery of oxygen and anesthesia.

After the anesthetic medications are given, the veterinary technician checks your pet’s palpebral reflex (blink reflex) to see if they are sedated enough to be intubated. Intubation involves placing a breathing tube into the airway to protect the lungs and allow delivery of oxygen and anesthesia.

 

An endotracheal tube is placed which administers anesthetic gas and oxygen to your pet during the dental.

An endotracheal tube is placed which administers anesthetic gas and oxygen to your pet during the dental.

 

During the procedure, your furry family member is hooked up to a monitoring unit which monitors heart rate, blood pressure and oxygenation levels. Your pet also receives heating effects from a machine called a Bair Hugger. This helps to prevent a low body temperature secondary to anesthesia and sedatives

During the procedure, your furry family member is hooked up to a monitoring unit which monitors heart rate, blood pressure and oxygenation levels. Your pet also receives heating effects from a machine called a Bair Hugger. This helps to prevent a low body temperature secondary to anesthesia and sedatives.

 

Before anything is done to your pet's teeth, the veterinary technician takes before photos of them. After the dental is completed, photos are taken again for comparison.

Before anything is done to your pet’s teeth, the veterinary technician takes before photos of them. After the dental is completed, photos are taken again for comparison.

 

The veterinary technician performs the scaling/cleaning of your furry family member’s teeth. The technician also probes and records any gingival pockets (gaps or spaces between the gum and the teeth) and other abnormalities present in the mouth.
Before the technician completes the dental, the veterinarian does a complete and thorough oral exam. This way, if any other procedures such as dental radiographs or further procedures are recommended, it can be performed before the pet is awake. The doctor will perform any necessary oral surgery or advanced periodontal work based on these diagnostic tests.

 

The veterinary technician administers fluoride treatment that helps preserve tooth enamel.

The veterinary technician administers fluoride treatment that helps preserve tooth enamel.

 

The veterinary assistant performs a nail trim while your furry family member is under anesthesia.

The veterinary assistant performs a nail trim while your furry family member is under anesthesia.

 

After the dental is complete, the veterinary staff will help start to wake up your pet. Depending on the type of anesthesia used, the recovery time can take anywhere from 2-10 minutes, all of which is still thoroughly monitored by the veterinary team.

After the dental is complete, the veterinary staff will help start to wake up your pet. Depending on the type of anesthesia used, the recovery time can take anywhere from 2-10 minutes, all of which is still thoroughly monitored by the veterinary team.

 

Once your furry family member is awake and has swallowed several times, the endotracheal tube will be removed.

Once your furry family member is awake and has swallowed several times, the endotracheal tube will be removed.

 

After your pet recovers from the dental procedure, he or she will either be returned to a comfortable cage or placed into an incubator if body temperature is below 100 degrees. The incubator provides a controlled heated environment to aid with patient recovery.

After your pet recovers from the dental procedure, he or she will either be returned to a comfortable cage or placed into an incubator if body temperature is below 100 degrees. The incubator provides a controlled heated environment to aid with patient recovery.

 

Before photos of teeth

Before dental photos of teeth

After photos of teeth

After dental photos of teeth

Thank you to Megan Van Paris and her pup Charlie for use of all the dental photos!

Written for Blum Animal Hospital by Jackie Sheppard.