Show us your teeth!
At Farm & Family, we take dentistry very seriously. Dr. Yeley has invested a great deal of time and money into continuing education, staff training, and equipment in order to make our dental service top notch. Believe it or not, until very recently, most veterinary schools did not place much, if any, emphasis on dental training. If they choose to, most veterinarians have to seek out this education on their own. As a result, many practices are offering substandard dental care.
How are we different? At many other practices, a "dental" is performed largely by a technician and consists of a brief oral exam under anesthesia, hand or ultrasonic scaling of the teeth, extraction of only very obviously diseased teeth, and hopefully a polish of the remaining teeth. At Farm & Family, we know that greater than 50% of the disease lies below the gumline where we cannot see without x-ray. If we don't address all of the disease in the mouth, a pet may go home with shiny clean teeth while his or her mouth remains chronically painful. For this reason, our "dental" consists of several more essential steps.
To properly prepare for your pet's needs, we require a physical and oral exam prior to the procedure day. This allows us to plan enough time to complete the entire procedure at once, give a ballpark estimate of costs, and to draw samples for pre-anesthetic labwork. This may take place at the time of an annual wellness visit or may be a separate appointment.
On the day of the procedure, your pet will be examined and premeded with pain medication and a sedative. An IV catheter will be placed for safety and to administer IV fluids to maintain blood pressure. He/she will receive IV anesthetic to allow an endotracheal tube to be placed to protect the airway and allow for gas anesthesia, the safest way to maintain them during the procedure. Your pet's temperature may drop under anesthesia, so we place them on a warming blanket and use a warmtouch that blows warm air around them. An electronic monitor will track heartrate, ECG, temperature, oxygen level, and blood pressure during the procedure. Our certified veterinary technician will also be monitoring your pet throughout the process.
One of the most important things we do differently than most practices is dental radiographs (x-rays). This is the first thing we do so that Dr. Yeley can begin making a plan if treatment is needed. Many times we may see a fairly normal looking mouth but find lots of disease under the gumline. That's why dental x-rays are so important!
While we are taking x-rays, we are also examining and charting the mouth. This allows us to record the pathology we find and to document the way it was treated during the procedure. This sheet also helps formulate a treatment plan and estimate costs.
As we are starting to clean the teeth with our ultrasonic scaler, a team member will call you with the exam findings, treatment needed, and an estimate of the total costs. Due to the nature of the oral surgery that is often needed to properly extract teeth and treat periodontal disease, it is very difficult to give an exact estimate. We try our hardest to give you our best guess as to how long it will take, and as a result, how much the needed care will cost.
Most dogs and cats over the age of 5 have periodontal disease to some extent which may require subgingival curetage of the pockets or possibly extraction(s), depending on the severity.
In dogs and cats, most teeth are multirooted, which often means they need to be surgically extracted. Dr. Yeley uses a high speed dental drill to section and extract each root. Afterwards, she will cover the defect with a flap of the gingiva and suture it closed. Some teeth may be very easy to remove while others may be much more difficult. As a result, treatment is charged by the surgical time and materials necessary to get the job done.
Cleaning & Polishing
Last, but definitely not least, a veterinary technician will finish up with ultrasonic scaling and polishing with our state of the art dental unit. Scaling removes the buildup of plaque and calculus that causes disease. Polishing is just as important, because it smoothes out any roughness in the enamel from scaling that can give future plaque an easy place to adhere to the tooth.
When you pick up your pet, one of our team members will go over home care instructions both for the first few days and for continued care of the teeth. Dr. Yeley will review the exam and x-ray findings with you as well as the treatment done. She will also be available to answer any questions you may have about your pet's oral health. If your pet had extractions, especially if a flap was sutured, a followup exam may be required in 14 days.
Home Dental Care
Without continuing oral care with your pet at home, it is inevitable that plaque and calculus will build back up quickly. We have several options available and will be happy to discuss which method best fits the needs of both you and your pet.