Your veterinarian may recommend that your cat have a dental procedure. This handout is an explanation of the dental services we provide. Dental procedures may range from cleaning, scaling, and polishing all the way up to full mouth extractions and x-rays. Please be aware that it is very challenging to provide a specific treatment plan without evaluating your cat’s teeth in person. Periodontal disease often lies below the gum line and can only be sufficiently evaluated while the patient is under anesthesia.
Prior to having a dental procedure, your cat will need pre-anesthetic blood work. This allows us to screen for underlying disease or other abnormalities that may affect the anesthetic procedure. Older patients, or those with previously diagnosed illnesses, are at a greater risk for anesthetic-related complications and may require more extensive pre-anesthetic diagnostics. Your cat may be asked to come in 2 to 3 days prior, and no longer than 30 days prior, to the procedure to have these diagnostics performed.
Most dental procedures will not require an overnight stay. The patient is admitted between 8:00 and 9:00 am the day of surgery, and will usually be released between 4:00 and 6:00 pm. All patients who will be anesthetized will need to fast overnight. This means no food after midnight the night prior to the procedure; however, access to water is allowed.
Components Of The Dental Procedure
- IV Fluids: An IV catheter will be placed on all patients undergoing anesthetic procedures to allow for the administration of fluids and injectable anesthesia. If indicated, your cat may also receive subcutaneous fluids. A small area of your cat’s leg will be shaved to place the IV catheter.
- Anesthesia: Although anesthesia is very safe, as in human medicine, it is not completely risk-free. We minimize this risk by creating an individual anesthetic protocol for your cat based on a physical exam, age, and pre-anesthetic blood work.
- Cardiovascular Monitoring: Your cat’s ECG, heart rate, oxygen saturation, and blood pressure are continuously monitored by a licensed veterinary technician and the veterinarian.
- Scaling/Polishing/Oral Exam: The dental technician carefully scales each tooth with an ultrasonic scaler, cleaning the surface of the teeth, and checking for abnormalities. The technician also performs root planning, which involves removing the tarter under the gum line with a special tool. When all the teeth are free of tartar and plaque, they will be polished for a smooth surface. The attending veterinarian then performs a full oral exam, charting each tooth and recording any abnormalities such as pockets, enamel breakdown, or missing teeth.
- Dental Radiographs: Dental radiographs are often necessary to fully evaluate a tooth below the gum line and make treatment decisions.
- Tooth Extraction: During your cat’s oral exam, the veterinarian may find teeth that are too damaged to be saved. In these instances, the veterinarian will extract the teeth. This will help prevent future pain and infection.
- Periodontal Treatment: A special antibiotic therapy administered to deep pockets around a tooth to stimulate healing of the gingiva. This can be done on early periodontal disease only.
- Pain Control: Often when oral surgery is performed, the veterinarian will administer an injection of pain medication. Pain medication will be sent with you at discharge to be continued at home.
- Antibiotics: Your cat may need to start an antibiotic a few days prior to surgery. Antibiotics decrease bacteria and help improve the health of the gingival tissue. If your cat is placed on an antibiotic prior to surgery, they will likely continue treatment post-surgery. Further instructions will be given at discharge.