This post is a follow-up to Dentistry at WMVH - Part 1.
Pre-anesthetic lab work and examination: All pets that receive general anesthesia at Willow Mill Veterinary Hospital receive a full physical examination within thirty days of the dentistry. Blood and urine tests are also performed at this appointment to uncover any hidden issues your pet may have before undergoing anesthesia.
General anesthesia: Dentistry requires an animal to be placed under a general anesthetic. All patients receive an intravenous catheter and intravenous fluids before, during, and after the procedure. During the dental cleaning a veterinary technician monitors blood pressure, heart rate, blood oxygen levels, and other parameters to assess how the body is responding to the anesthesia.
Scaling: Scaling is the process where the tartar is removed from the teeth. Tartar is produced by bacteria that live on the teeth. Tartar causes inflammation of the gums (gingivitis) and leads to recession of the gums, exposure of the tooth roots, and eventually the loss of the tooth. We remove the tartar with a combination of an ultrasonic scaler and hand scaler (just like a human dental hygienist). Removal of the tartar on the teeth is vital to improving the health of the mouth and the patient’s halitosis (bad breath).
Periodontal probing: Once the teeth have been scaled the veterinarian examines each tooth individually with a periodontal probe. We use the probe to look for pockets between or around the teeth. Pockets are caused by the gum losing its attachment to the tooth. Bacteria and tartar can accumulate in the pocket causing the wall of the tooth socket to erode. This can progress to mobility of the tooth and eventually the development of an abscess or loss of the tooth. A small pocket may be cleaned and flushed, but a deep pocket usually requires that the affected tooth is removed.
Charting: The combination of radiology and periodontal probing allows us to accurately diagnose any problems with the teeth and formulate a treatment plan. We use a special chart to record our findings and treatment.
Polishing: The mechanical removal of the plaque and calculus by scaling causes microscopic roughening of the tooth surface. The roughening allows plaque and calculus to build up faster leading to earlier periodontal disease. Polishing smoothes the surface of the tooth and decreases the adhesive ability of plaque.