Once your pet has been intubated and put under gas anesthesia, we start taking full mouth radiographs, just like at your dentist’s office. Each radiograph is evaluated by the veterinarian to check for any hidden problems. Then each tooth is checked for mobility and gingival pockets around the tooth due to gingival disease. If there are any teeth that need to be extracted, the veterinarian would extract them at this time. The teeth then are ultrasonically cleaned by a certified veterinary technician with our scaler to remove the calculus and tartar that has accumulated. The technician also cleans underneath the gum line (subgingival) because many times there is hidden tartar.
After the teeth are sparkling clean, Fluoride is spread over them to slow the reattachment of plaque to the teeth. OraVet is then applied to each tooth. OraVet is a waxy-like barrier sealant that helps seal the gum line after cleaning to help prevent the buildup of tartar. If there are any extractions needed, we will send you home with medication to help with pain afterwards; we may also send home antibiotics if the gingival disease is significant.
Below are before and after pictures showing excessive tartar and hair built up, resulting in multiple extractions.
Before Oral Health Evaluation
After Oral Health Evaluation (with extractions)
When dogs break their teeth and expose the pulp chamber (the inside of the tooth containing sensitive nerves and blood vessels), bacteria travels down the tooth and results in root abscesses that are very painful. In order to save the tooth, a root canal needs to be performed.
A local nerve block is done before starting the root canal process, to help reduce pain during the procedure when you pet in under anesthesia. Pre root canal radiographs are taken of the tooth. Then all the living tissue is removed from the pulp chamber from access holes made by a high speed drill. The chamber then is sterilized, filled and sealed close. A post root canal radiograph is taken to make sure the root canal was successful. The doctor then shapes the tooth to fit a crown and an impression of the tooth is made to send to a dental lab. The lab makes a crown specifically for your pet’s tooth and usually has it ready within 2 weeks. After a quick crown application, your pet’s tooth is all set to go!
Accessing Pulp Chambers
Post Root Canal Radiograph
Multiple root canals and crowns
Just like with people who need braces, some dogs or cats have teeth that come in not aligned correctly. These teeth can cause trauma to other teeth or the gums by not lining up properly. These problems can be hereditary, caused by baby teeth not falling out at the appropriate time, or a result of trauma to the mouth while the pet is young and still growing. There are multiple dental orthodontic procedures that we can perform to help align the teeth better.
Power chains are similar to rubber bands that we use to help slowly ‘pull’ the teeth back to where they are supposed to be. Once the teeth are in proper alignment, the power chain will be removed.
Front canine tooth coming out too straight.
Incline Planes are comparable to a human retainer; however it is bonded to teeth to stay in place until the teeth are corrected. Once the teeth are in proper alignment, the incline plane will be removed.
Before Incline Plane; tooth pushing into gums.
Incline Plane pushing canine teeth outward.
Another view of Incline Plane.
A vital pulpotomy is a sterile procedure that caps off the pulp chamber of the tooth. This is most frequently done after the crown of the tooth is reduced in cases of traumatic malocclusion. One example of this is if the lower canines of a pet are puncturing holes in the top of the mouth due to the jaw being too short. The canines then would be sterilely reduced (cut down) to a point where they were not hitting the top of the mouth. Then a portion of the pulp is removed and then sealed to avoid complications in the future.
Canine tooth after vital pulpotomy
Radiographs showing capped off pulp chambers