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We all know the drill at the human dentist when we get our teeth cleaned. But what do our pets experience at the veterinary dentist?

1. Admission to hospital:

Cats and dogs will not lie back and say “aah”, so Fluffy must be anaesthetized. After fasting overnight, she is admitted to the hospital in the morning, weighed, and settled in a kennel with some warm blankets.

2. Pre-Anaesthetic Bloodwork:

Dental disease can cause kidney, liver and heart disease. As the kidney and liver are the organs that metabolize medication, we do blood tests to make sure that Fluffy’s organ function is good.

3. Pre-Anaesthetic Examination:

Before Fluffy’s dentistry begins, the veterinarian will interpret the blood test results, and examine Fluffy to make sure she is healthy.

4. Sedation:

Fluffy is given an injection of a sedative and rests in her kennel until she falls asleep. This usually takes 15-20 minutes.

5. Catheterization and IV Fluids:

An intravenous (IV) catheter is placed in Fluffy’s front leg. Fluffy will receive IV fluids for the duration of her dentistry.

6. Intubation:

Fluffy is given an injection of a stronger sedative through her IV line. An endotracheal tube is carefully inserted into Fluffy’s trachea (windpipe). This tube is connected to the anaesthetic machine, which provides Fluffy with oxygen and anaesthetic gas.

7. Vital Sign Monitor:

Fluffy’s vital signs are monitored by both a monitor machine and a veterinary technician with a stethoscope.

8. Dental Scaling:

A veterinary technician will clean Fluffy’s teeth using a dental scaler. This is a dental instrument used to scrape the plaque and tartar off of Fluffy’s teeth.

9. Dental Polishing:

After Fluffy’s teeth are clean, the technician will use a polisher (and gritty toothpaste) to remove any scratches on the surface of Fluffy’s teeth. Polishing the teeth makes them smooth and deters the formation of plaque and tartar.

10. Dental Examination:

Now that Fluffy’s teeth are clean, her teeth will be examined for cavities, periodontal disease, and other problems.

11. Dental Surgery:

If Fluffy has severe periodontal disease, some of her teeth may need to be removed. Tooth extractions are a form of dental surgery, and will be done by a veterinarian at this time.

12. Fluoride Treatment:

Fluffy’s teeth are treated wtih a fluoride paste. Fluoride will strengthen her teeth and make them more resistant to cavities.

13. Extubation and Recovery:

Now that Fluffy’s dentistry is complete, the oxygen and anaesthetic gas are turned off, and the endotracheal tube is removed. Fluffy is wrapped in a warm blanket and returned to her kennel with a hot water bottle. The technician continues to monitor her recovery and trims her nails.

14. Home!

Fluffy is ready to go home in the evening. She should be allowed to nap for the rest of the day. If she has had dental surgery, Fluffy may have antibiotics, pain medication, and a soft food diet for the days following her surgery.

15. Preventative Home Care:

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure! Investing a little time in her dental health will keep Fluffy – and your wallet – happy and healthy.

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Copyright 2013 Lynne Semple and Rowan for Acres Animal Hospital