Dental disease is extremely common in dogs, cats and rabbits with 1 in 3 pets being affected by the age of five. We are happy to advise and help with preventive dental care and also treat existing problems, from mild gingivitis to advanced periodontal disease and worse.
At The Veterinary Centre we have embraced the British Veterinary Dental Association's recommendations to give your pet the best dental care possible and we now "stage" our dentals. This means that a dog or cat might have two (or sometimes even three) dentals however, we believe that this is far safer and better for your pet than one very long anaesthetic.
With all dental treatments the patient receives a full pre op examination in order for us to plan the safest anaesthetic. Pre anaesthetic blood tests may also be taken to check your pets biochemistry, haematology and electrolyte values. It is not safe to perform dental treatments under sedation because of the risk of inhalation pneumonia. It is imperative that your pet does not inhale bacteria and water from the scaling process. To prevent this from happening we place a well fitting endo-tracheal tube into the windpipe thus protecting it from fluid and debris in the mouth and supplying oxygen and anaesthetic gas to the lungs.
Every patient that is anaesthetised for dentistry (and all other surgical procedures) is fully monitored by a dedicated anaesthetic nurse - either a RVN or student veterinary nurse who is undergoing her training. The latest equipment is used to assist her with the monitoring process and monitoring charts are used which allow us to keep track on your pets heart rate, respiration rate, blood pressure, oxygen saturation, carbon dioxide levels and body temperature. All anaesthetics can result in a drop in core body temperature and we maintain this using heat pads, beanies and a Bair Hugger (a hot air blanket).
At a Stage 1 dental the teeth are cleaned (using an ultrasonic cleaner) and polished, the mouth is fully examined and any very obviously diseased teeth are removed. All the teeth are then x-rayed using our state of the art dental xray machine and digital processor. We cannot always tell if a tooth needs to be removed just by looking at it, as there is often much more happening below the gum line. X-rays are required to assess the whole tooth including the roots and then plan the dental treatment required. Upto 28% of dental disease in dogs and 42% in cats occurs below the gum line, so only visible with x-rays.
Teeth with decay are usually extracted, because the nature of their diet and the cost involved makes filling impractical. It could be that only one or two teeth need extracting and if this is the case we will proceed with extracting them at the stage 1 dental. More often or not though multiple teeth are diseased, often on both sides of the mouth and require removal. This is where we plan and go on to perform a Stage 2 dental. With extractions it is too painful to remove all the teeth at the same time. We will allow one side of the mouth to heal fully and then plan the second dental, much like your own dentist would do.
By planning and staging our dentals we aim to keep you fully informed of what we are doing, what needs to be done and why.
How else do we embrace the British Veterinary Dental Association's recommendations? After collaboration with human dentists, vets have now developed extraction techniques that are less traumatic and therefore heal much better. This may involve a surgical extraction which involves much skill and patience as diseased tooth roots can be easily fractured and are often fused into the jaw bone. We may also perform a post extraction x-ray to ensure that all of the root/s have been removed, as retained roots are a surprisingly common cause of mouth pain.
We believe that by staging our dental treatments we are giving you pet the best veterinary care and an optimised recovery. One of the commonest owner reactions at the post-dental check up a few days later is “He/She is like a new Dog/Cat”. It is as though freedom from mouth pain and chronic infection has made them feel years younger again!
For those of you interested in the technicalities!
Our “state of the art” dental machine has two main components. The main unit is compressor driven with 3 hand-pieces – a high-speed drill with a fibre optic light source (which greatly improves visibility within the mouth), a low speed polisher and an air and water flush hand-piece.
The separate ultrasonic scaler is a joy to use and allows us to complete dentals much more quickly than previous models, thereby saving anaesthetic time for the patients. It has five power settings and can be safely used under the delicate gum margins to clean tartar and plaque from this hidden area.
We recently upgraded all of our dental instruments and have dedicated dog, cat and rabbit dental kits with a variety of equipment for making the whole proceedure much better.
In May 2018 we moved all of dental facilities into a new purpose built dental suite in the "Annex". This building is at the bottom of our car park and has been kitted out with all the mod cons that we need to provide the best possible dental care that we can.