What Happens When Your Pet Comes to Fairway Animal Hospital for a Dental?

At Fairway Animal Hospital a dental consists of ultrasonic scaling of all surfaces of the teeth, including under the gum line, and polishing as well.  This is done while your pet is closely monitored under anesthesia.  Any problems in the mouth are addressed at this time; this may include radiographs of suspect teeth, tooth extractions, biopsies of gingival masses, etc.   

What happens once you drop your pet off?

  1. Your pet will be examined by their veterinarian and vital signs recorded. 
  2. If consent was given, blood will be drawn to run a profile that shows if the white and red blood cell counts are normal.  The profile also shows how the liver and kidneys are functioning.  This is important because the anesthetic agents used are processed by these organs and any decrease in function would increase risk of complications. 
  3. After the blood work results have been reviewed, your pet receives a sedative injection to relax them. 
  4. Once your pet is relaxed a registered veterinary technician (RVT) will place an intravenous catheter, deliver anesthetic drugs intravenously to induce anesthesia, place and secure an endotracheal tube, and supply oxygen and anesthetic gas to maintain an appropriate plane of anesthesia.  There is a balloon-like cuff on the endotracheal tube that prevents any debris that is produced by the dental going into the lungs.  The cuff also ensures that the anesthetic gas doesn’t escape into the room air.  Your pet also receives fluids intravenously throughout the procedure to help maintain blood pressure.  Artificial tears are instilled in both eyes to protect them during the procedure. 
  5. Your pet is then wrapped in a warming blanket.  An assistant places a doppler on one of the back feet to monitor the systolic blood pressure.  Vital signs such as heart rate, respiratory rate, temperature, and systolic blood pressure are measured every five minutes while your pet is under anesthesia.  Nails are trimmed if needed.     
  6. Once your pet is fully anesthetized, the RVT begins the dental.  First they chart the teeth making note of the level of calculus on each tooth.  They then check for mobile teeth, deep pockets in the gums around the teeth, broken or missing teeth, recession of the gums away from the crown of the tooth, tooth crowding, etc. 
  7. Before scaling, an antimicrobial flush is used to rinse the mouth.  Then the RVT uses an ultrasonic scaler to scale away the calculus from the crown of the tooth, above and below the gum line, and along the roots if exposed.  Depending on the mouth, this can take anywhere from 30 minutes to more than an hour. 
  8. Once all surfaces of the teeth have been cleaned, prophy paste is then used to polish the teeth.    
  9. Now that the dental has been completed, the doctor can address any problems in the mouth.  If dentals are done before periodontal disease starts, this usually is when we wake most patients up.  If your pet has periodontal disease then we will use this time to take radiographs, extract bad teeth, remove gingival growths, etc. 
  10. Once all problems have been addressed, we rinse the pet’s mouth thoroughly, apply a fluoride foam to the teeth, then turn off the anesthetic gas.  Most pets wake up slowly and are groggy.  When they regain the reflex to swallow we deflate the cuff on the endotracheal tube and pull it out.  We stop the intravenous fluids, but don’t pull the catheter until they are able to walk. They rest on a pad in a cage until leaving for home that evening.

For more information on periodontal disease and dentals:



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