Dental care for pets is almost more vital than our own dental needs, as they cannot and generally do not tolerate tooth brushing! A cursory examination of your pets mouth will expose some of the problems, but we really only get the full picture once an exam under anaesthetic is done.
An initial consultation with our dental vet; Dr Lorette Goosen is advised. She can give an estimate of the work required and also of the expected costs.
All pets requiring a scale and polish will have a general anaesthetic so will need to have 12 hours without food and no water on the morning of the procedure. Often it is older pets that need dental treatment, and it may be necessary to run blood tests to check organ function and assess them for the anaesthetic. To maximise safety we utilise the help of Dr Keagan Bousted our animal anaesthetist.
The mouth is prepared for a proper examination by removing the surface tartar – this scale and polish involves descaling the teeth using an ultrasonic descaler, which removes scale from the teeth with almost no damage to the enamel. The teeth and gums are then examined for any disease or damage, often aided by dental specific X-rays. Severely compromised teeth may need to be extracted.
When all the cleaning and extraction work is complete, the teeth are polished with a high-speed dental polisher and special paste. It is essential this is done as the ultrasonic scaler makes microscopic scratches in the tooth enamel which, if not polished out, will be an excellent place for food and bacteria to start to build up again.
Some patients may be sent home with a course of antibiotic tablets and/or painkillers. Older animals are often kept overnight to monitor their full recovery from the anaesthetic, and to ensure they are eating well prior to going home.
Yearly check-ups will minimise potentially serious problems in your pet’s mouth and end up sparing them much discomfort – to wait until your pet is battling to eat or has a foul breath may be too late!