“I was nervous about my cat’s dental cleaning, because general anesthesia is involved. But, I could tell her mouth was sore, and the veterinarian said she really needed the surgery. When I picked her up after her procedure, she was purring and happy. Our cranky girl is gone—she seems like a different cat!”
—Anonymous pet owner
At Alpine Animal Hospital, your pet’s oral health is a top priority. Our team provides professional, affordable, and comprehensive dentistry for your pet. At your pet’s annual professional dental treatment, we will fully examine your pet, provide preanesthetic testing, premedicate, perform general anesthesia, clean and polish your pet’s teeth, perform needed procedures, and carefully supervise recovery.
#1: Pre-procedure pet exam
The day of your pet’s dental procedure, we will look carefully at their mouth, listen to their heart and lungs, take their body temperature, and gather all other information from a full physical exam. No matter how recently we may have examined your pet, we need to know that your pet’s vital signs are normal on the day of the dental procedure. We also need to know about any changes in your pet since you made the appointment.
#2: Preanesthetic pet testing
We will perform preanesthetic blood work and urinalysis prior to your pet’s dental procedure. A complete blood count lets us know that their red and white blood cell counts are normal. A normal chemistry panel suggests your pet’s organ systems are functioning well. Your pet’s preanesthetic test results help us customize an anesthetic protocol by modifying medications or adjusting fluid therapy, and minimizing your pet’s risk.
#3: Premedication for your pet
Next, we give your pet a calming sedative, which allows us to place an intravenous (IV) catheter without stressing them. We often use pre-meds that prevent anxiety, and we give anti-pain medication. Your pet may need a painful tooth procedure, such as an extraction of a loose or damaged tooth. Giving the pain medication before and after the procedure works best. Since pets are fasted, because an empty stomach helps prevent complications, we often give glucose to smaller pets to prevent low blood sugar. Your pet is supported with external warming devices, such as blankets and heating pads, throughout the day.
#3: Pet general anesthesia
We use the safest modern inhalant pet anesthesia, and secure your pet’s airway with a breathing tube. We carefully monitor your pet’s EKG, blood pressure, temperature, and breathing. An IV catheter allows us to instantly administer any needed medications, and to avoid low blood pressure and dehydration with appropriate fluid support. With general anesthesia, your pet will not experience any pain or anxiety.
#4: Pet teeth cleaning and polishing
General anesthesia allows us to fully clean all sides of each tooth, and scale and polish the entire tooth, above and below the gum line. Cleaning under the gum line prevents periodontal disease, which causes pain, tooth loss, and jaw bone loss. Small dogs and cats have small jaw bones, so this treatment helps prevent jaw bone fractures. Polishing creates a smooth tooth surface that is less inviting for plaque formation.
#5: Pet dental procedures
Digital dental X-rays provide a view of the tooth underneath the gum line, as well as problems that may be hidden from the eye. If the X-ray reveals a problem that is causing your pet pain, such as periodontal bone loss or a tooth root abscess, we will call you during the procedure to recommend tooth extraction or other dental procedures. We use local numbing to add to your pet’s pain prevention. Any stitches in your pet’s mouth will absorb on their own. After a couple weeks of healing, pets with multiple tooth extractions can eat dry kibble well, and are much happier without the pain of the diseased teeth.
#5: Monitoring your pet’s recovery
After the dental cleaning is complete, we monitor every step of your pet’s anesthesia recovery, ensuring your pet’s breathing remains steady before, during, and after we remove the breathing tube. Recovery occurs in warm blankets—often on a staff member’s lap. No anesthetic procedure is entirely risk-free, but our methods and procedures ensure the safest dental cleaning possible for your pet.
At Alpine Animal Hospital, all pets receive an oral evaluation with their annual visit, and we recommend that pets receive a yearly professional dental cleaning beginning at age 3. Together, let’s take care of your pet’s oral health, and watch their grumpiness turn to pain-free joy.
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