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  • Writer's pictureCuyamaca Animal Hospital

The Top 7 Questions To Ask Before Getting Your Dog Or Cat's Dental

Here at Cuyamaca Animal Hospital, we believe it’s so important to get your pet’s dental services done at a trusted veterinarian as opposed to a groomer to ensure proper care. In fact, we have a whole blog post dedicated to why dental care is SO important for your pet that you can read here. When comparing veterinary hospital dental services, there are some important questions to ask.

dental procedures in santee or san diego | Cuyamaca Animal Hospital

We’ve gone ahead and wrote up a list of questions you should be asking your vet and also answered them here so that you’re prepared for your visit to Cuyamaca Animal Hospital should you choose us for your pet’s dental needs:

1. Is Sevoflurane anesthesia used? 

Yes, Cuyamaca starts off with a thorough exam by a veterinarian to ensure there are no health concerns that would prevent the dental from being performed. In addition, bloodwork is done to evaluate organ function to make sure that your companion is healthy enough to undergo anesthesia.

We use Sevoflurane gas, the safest human-grade anesthetic, which has significantly fewer complications when compared to other anesthetics. 

2. Why does my dog need to be put under anesthesia for a dental when groomers do it without putting them under?

The simple answer? It’s actually generally safer for your pet. Understand that while humans brush our teeth every single day, many times, pet owners are not brushing (let alone flossing) their dog’s teeth, which means dental cleanings are a lot more involved for pets. 

Also, anesthetic free dentals can clean the tartar off the teeth but they can't clean and evaluate under the gumline to evaluate the severity of the periodontal disease, which is extremely important to know.

Overall, anesthesia and the monitoring that comes with it has significantly reduced complications that come from procedures like dentals. 

Because of the thorough training required for these types of procedures, we will ALWAYS recommend our clients to either see us or another trained veterinarian. 

3. What is the sedation/anesthesia process like for my pet? 

Your pet will be given an injection to help sedate and calm them prior to anesthesia. This injection is typically a narcotic combined with a sedative that will help keep them comfortable and relaxed during their stay. Once the premedication injection has taken effect, an IV catheter is placed and IV fluids are started to ensure your companion stays hydrated and maintains normal blood pressure during the dental procedure. The IV catheter also ensures immediate access should any drugs need to be administered. 

4. Are nerve blocks performed prior to extractions? 

Yes, should we need to extract any teeth, we will perform a nerve block to numb the mouth beforehand. 

5. Are digital dental x-rays offered?

Yes! Dental x-rays are always recommended to assess tooth health under the gumline. Approximately 10% of patients will have abnormalities under the gumline that will not be obvious on the oral exam. For example, a normal-looking tooth can have a tooth root abscess or the site where a tooth is missing may have healthy gum but retained roots that should be removed. 

6. Has the staff performing the dental procedures been trained by a board-certified veterinary dentist? 

Our dental hygienists and registered veterinary technicians have been trained by a board-certified veterinary dentist to clean and extract teeth. The methods used to clean the teeth of dogs and cats are the same methods used on humans. Tartar is scaled off with an ultrasonic scaler, root planing (deep cleaning under the gumline) is done and the teeth are polished. Each tooth (dogs have 42 teeth, cats have 32 teeth) is thoroughly evaluated and pocket depth noted. If a tooth is loose, abscessed, fractured or has a pocket depth of 6 mm or more, it should be extracted.

In some instances, a board-certified veterinary dentist can perform a root canal or other specialized procedures to save compromised teeth. The veterinarian who is overseeing your pet’s dental will inform you if this is an option. If at any time you feel you would like a second opinion from a veterinary dental specialist, we will gladly set up the referral.

7. What kind of monitoring is done during anesthesia? 

While under anesthesia, your companion is hooked up to an ECG to monitor heart rate and rhythm, a pulse oximeter to monitor oxygen levels and a monitor that oversees respiratory rate, body temperature, blood pressure, and CO2 levels. It is very important to monitor ALL of these values & not just having an ECG & pulse oximeter.

8. Will a recovery nurse sit with your companion and continue to monitor vital signs during the post-anesthetic recovery period? 

Once the dental prophylaxis has been finished, we closely monitor your companion during the post-anesthetic recovery period. Our recovery nurse will sit with your companion and continue to monitor their vital signs until they are awake. Once they are able to stand and walk, your companion will be returned to their enclosure and offered a small meal. 

The doctors and staff at Cuyamaca Animal Hospital understand your concerns and are here to help answer any questions you may have about the dental care that we provide. We take great pride in providing the highest quality care and service for our dental patients and hope you choose us to ensure a happy, healthy pet with a great smile! To set an appointment for your pet, visit us here or give us a call directly at 619-448-0707.

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