Pet Health

All About Dentals!

Dental health is SO important for our dogs! According to the AVMA 95% of all dogs and cats will have periodontal disease by age 3.  Bad breath isn’t the only thing that can come of dental problems. Long-term effects of dental disease include kidney, liver and heart disease.

As a pet owner I know anesthetic dental cleanings sound scary. But, as a veterinary technician I can tell you- it doesn’t have to be scary for you or your dog!  I’ll walk you through Parker’s last dental prophylaxis (the fancy veterinary word for anesthetic dental procedure).

The first step to a successful dental is the history and physical exam.  Your veterinarian will listen to your dogs heart and lungs and thoroughly assess them from head to tail.  Blood work should ALWAYS be run before a dental! I prefer the morning of, or at least as close to as possible. Modern veterinary practices should have the ability to run in-house blood work. If they can’t, they may not have modern equipment for the anesthesia and monitoring- something to think about. Your doctor will go over your dog’s history and any potential pre-existing conditions.

Dr. A checked out Parker, gave him the A-OK- no murmur, lungs sound good, usual old-man stiffness but nothing exciting. We pulled blood from him and I ran the blood myself. The doc checked it out- all was within normal limits- “exceptional” for an almost 13 year old dog in her words!

The next step is to pre-medicate and place an IV catheter. Pre-medications are drugs that provide sedation and pain relief prior to the procedure. Dogs should always have an IV catheter for any anesthetic procedure for quick access for medication and for IV fluids during the procedure.

After the pre-medications take effect- half an hour- it’s time to start the dental. Your dog will be anesthetized with an induction agent, then intubated with an endotracheal tube.  Why is that important? Intubation keeps them from aspirating any of the water used during the procedure and is also how they are maintained under anesthesia using an aerosolized anesthetic.

From there what happens is very similar to when you go to the dentist-minus the flossing.

Just starting out- you can see Parker is intubated.

Their teeth and under the gumline are scaled with an ultrasonic scaler to remove all dental tartar. The doctor will assess their gums and teeth, then their teeth are polished just like ours and rinsed. Many veterinary practices also have dental x-rays as well!  The whole procedure, minus any extractions (teeth needing to be removed), only takes 15-30 minutes depending on the severity of the dental disease.

While they are under anesthesia they should have monitoring equipment attached.  Parker had his heart rate, respiratory rate, blood pressure, pulse oximetry, temperature, end tidal CO2 and ECG all being monitored.  A quick glance and we could see how his body was handling the procedure!

Once the procedure is all done it’s time to wake them up. Since they are on gas anesthetic that is released when they exhale, it doesn’t

Just waking up! Parker still has the endotracheal tube and also is being monitored by pulse oximetry on his ear.

take very long for them to be raring to go. We wait for them to be able to swallow to remove the tube and then they go to recovery.  During the recovery phase they are monitored constantly and have their TPR (temperature, pulse and respiration) checked every 10 minutes or less, depending on need.

Your doctor will want to keep your pup for a few hours to make sure they’re awake and stable before heading home.  Once you get home your pup may be feeling a little groggy or whiny, which is totally normal. Usually by the next day they’re up and at ’em!

Parker woke up within 15 minutes of the end of the procedure and was ready to G-O! Because Parker has curvy veins in his front legs we had to place his lateral cephalic vein- the medical term for inside of his hind leg! Once his temperature was normal we removed it and went for a potty break. He ate a small meal once we got home and was back to his normal food routine the next day!

This photo was taken on the potty break after his dental. Parker was totally back to normal!

Have any questions about dental procedures?  Leave them in the comments!


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