1. Follow guidelines created by veterinary specialists
2. Include dental x-rays in all pets
- Over 25% of dogs with normal oral exams have 1 or more problems that are only evident on radiographs
- Over 50% of cats the age of 5 or older have abnormal x-rays
- Chipped and discolored teeth often abscess (94% within 2 yrs) and cause pain
- Before any teeth are treated, oral pathology needs to be identified
- Unerupted teeth can develop bone destructive cysts
- “Look into future” gives us the ability to prevent unnecessary emergency dental visits or painful episodes
3. Preemptively address concerns about pain
- Local pain blocks for any procedures
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDS) like Rimadyl®
- Narcotic pain injections
- Constant assessment (before, during & after the procedure)
- At-home pain relievers
4. Take into account breed-specific conditions
WTVC has practiced breed specific dentistry for over 10 years. The following breeds need a different dental prevention and treatment focus, and this is just a partial list!
- Retrievers (chipped teeth, discolored teeth)
- Pugs, Bostons, Boxers, Shitzus, Lhasas, Bulldogs (missing teeth, crowded, partially erupted, deciduous canine teeth)
- Yorkshire terriers, Miniature poodles, Chihuahuas and many other toy breeds persistent deciduous (baby) teeth esp canines
- All small dogs less than 20 lbs (prone to periodontitis & teeth loss)
- Greyhounds (genetically prone to periodontitis)
- Brachycephalic (short-nosed) breeds have slightly higher anesthetic risk
5. Completely address home care with a strong preventative approach
- VOHC-approved foods
- Oravet® barrier sealant
- Evidence-based tooth brushing pastes & rinses
- Evidence-based treats & water additives
- Recommendation of “teeth safe” toys
See Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC) for a complete list.
The Pet Dentistry Library includes great articles on all types of care.
6. Be cost effective
The early preventative approach is also the most cost-effective approach.
Grade 1 & 2 dental cleanings typically cost $150 to $250 but Grade 3 & 4 stages can be from $500 to over $1,000 and can include full mouth x-rays, extractions of “end-stage teeth,” anesthesia, and pain medications for advanced disease and bone loss.
7. Detect and treat “surprises” to prevent pain & avoid an additional anesthetic episode
- Deep periodontal pockets
- Missing teeth (dogs should have 42 and cats 30)
- Chipped or fractured teeth
- Resorptive lesions
- Apical abscesses
- Malformed teeth
- Discolored teeth
Many of these teeth can be saved by applying sealants, below gum time-release antibiotic (perioceutic), performing a root canal (if an important tooth) or extracted via oral surgery techniques. These decisions will be made on a tooth-by-tooth basis, fully involving you in the decision-making process.
8. Include special training and equipment
The American Veterinary Dental Society has sponsored an annual 3-day educational conference for the past 23 years that includes everything from home care to root canals. Dr. Lambrecht has attended this conference since its inception in 1986 and in the past several years, staff doctors and Certified Veterinary Technicians have attended as well.
See the latest information that has come from that meeting including breed specific dentistry, and new home care products, and the use of fish oils in preventing & treating periodontitis and more in Dr. Lambrecht’s blog.
Oral surgery in pets is now as common as in people. Root canals, oral surgery in pets and periodontal surgery may be needed to save strategic teeth. Sealing chipped teeth, the application of a time released antibiotic, as well as advanced periodontal therapy, is practiced on a daily basis often avoiding an additional anesthetic episode.
9. Address anesthetic risks & concerns completely
- Our staff is well trained to be able to safely induce & monitor anesthesia
- We have state-of-the-art monitoring and warming units
- We follow AAHA and AVDC protocols
- Doctors and Certified Veterinary Technicians work as a team
- We place IV catheters in all pets
- We practice balanced anesthesia by using local blocks and premeds
Note: Sedation dentistry does NOT allow the complete visualization, charting and staging/documentation using x-rays that can be obtained by our 12-step cleaning. Placement of an endotracheal tube is paramount for a thorough cleaning and anesthetic safety.
A board-certified anesthesiologist is available by appointment for high-risk, long or complicated anesthesia or just for extra peace of mind. Please ask for details.
10. Include referral to a dental specialist or telemedicine consult as needed
For unusual cases, we can take digital photographs which can be sent along with digital dental x-rays to specialists as needed. Procedures such as root canals, crowns, cancer involving the mouth, even orthodontics can be performed by board specialized veterinary dentists at the UW. (They currently have 3 — the most of any veterinary teaching hospital in the world!)
Tues: 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Wed: 8 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Thurs: 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Fri: 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Sat: 8 a.m. to noon