During your pet’s annual examination, the veterinarian will check your pet’s mouth and teeth to evaluate for any issues or for any infection that may be present.
Based on many factors, the veterinarian may recommend that your pet have a dental cleaning to help keep those pearly whites in their best condition or they may need a more detailed procedure which may or may not include extractions.
Of course, you may be wondering which questions you should ask your veterinary team when you are considering a dental cleaning or procedure for your pet…
Here is a list of questions that we feel are important for a client to ask before any dental procedure on their pet:
- Does the veterinarian examine the patient in the morning prior to surgery? (EVC – Yes, we do).
- What level of anesthetic is the patient under? Sedation Only > this allows for a less thorough assessment and treatment or General Anesthetic > this will include a full examination, treatment and placement of a tracheal tube to protect the airway. (EVC – We use General Anesthetic) NOTE: Ruling from the Ontario Court, what is referred to as Awake Dentistry is misleading to the public, as a full dental cleaning cannot be achieved.
- Will the patient have an IV catheter placed for safe delivery of medications? Is the patient on Intravenous fluids for safety and maintenance of blood pressure? (EVC – We always place an IV catheter and use Intravenous fluids).
- Which machinery is used to monitor the patient’s breathing, heart rate, EKG, CO2, oxygen saturation, blood pressure, body temperature, and manual checks? (EVC – We have equipment to monitor all of the above).
- Is there a licensed technician (RVT, Veterinary Nurse) dedicated anesthetist to monitor the patient and the equipment? How frequently are they monitored? Every 5 minutes? 15? (EVC – Yes, there is always certified staff looking after your pet, and noting vital signs on paper every 5 minutes so we can monitor trends to prevent unnecessary challenges and risks).
- What documentation is made of a dental examination > such as; probing pocket depth, noting mobility, furcation exposures, crowding, missing teeth, rotated teeth, etc.? (EVC – We record all of these things; every time and we can provide a copy for you if you wish! We can also provide pre and post photographs, so you can see exactly what has been done).
- Is it a veterinarian performing the dental procedure? What is the experience of the veterinarian performing the dental assessment and surgery? When and to what level of continuing education have they done/maintained? (Here at EVC, we ONLY have veterinarians do dental surgery and extractions; as for a cleaning; as with people, they may be done by licensed technologists. NOTE: Dr. Catherine Kerr has been doing extensive dentistry as a part of her practice for well over 10 years, and Dr. Jordan LeMasurier for more then 4 years. Dr. Kerr is always attending and maintaining continuing education for many ongoing learning dental courses, including full weekend courses, to ensure she continues to provide top quality dental care.)
- Does the clinic have dental x-ray, and do they use it routinely? (EVC – We do, with every dental).
- What sort of pain management is used? Are dental blocks used to reduce the amount of anesthetic required? (EVC – Pain management is used in all patients to ensure comfort both under anesthetic and during recovery).
These are some basic questions that you should feel comfortable in asking your veterinarian. We are happy to share our knowledge and help educate you about what is happening in your pet’s mouth, what can be done to treat existing disease, prevent progression of disease, and the consequences of not pursuing treatment.
Veterinary clinics are not all the same! And not all approach dental health in the same manner. You should be comfortable and confident about the safety and quality of care your best friend is going to receive.
“Value” and “cost” are different concepts, and it is important to know what is included in the treatment and what you are receiving for your investment.
A website you might wish to browse is www.toothvet.ca. It is the website of a boarded veterinary dentist in Ontario who has made a lot of excellent information publicly available. His principles are generally the same ones to which EVC adheres.
Hopefully these tips will help give you some ideas and questions to consider. As always, here at EVC we are more then happy to answer questions should you have any regarding this information. We understand this is an investment, and that the value can be difficult to appreciate when you cannot fully see all the pathology in the mouth when it hides below the gum line. It is difficult to predict exactly what will be found once a proper and thorough exam is completed in a sleeping and accessible mouth. Our estimates are broad and reflect an effort to reduce surprises after the event.
The following video link is a good representation of how we approach animal dentistry at EVC:
The following gives information on awake dentistry:
It is important you feel comfortable with your healthcare provider and have discussed expectations prior to proceeding, both from a cost and results perspective. Please let us know if we can be of further assistance.