It’s important to know what to expect about logistics, who will be caring for your pet, cost of treatment, and follow-up. We’ve assembled some of our frequently-asked questions to help you learn more. If you have any other questions, please feel free to contact us.
When you and your pet come to see us, first we’ll need to know few details about your pet (you can provide it to us ahead of time). Then, you’ll meet with a veterinary technician or veterinary assistant who will briefly gather your pet’s medical and dental history, including blood work from your primary veterinarian (if this has been done) and record your pet’s vital signs. Finally, you’ll meet with a veterinarian that will review the information, examine your pet with particular attention to the oral cavity as well as their heart and lungs. The veterinarian will then discuss their findings and potential treatment options. With your input, a customized treatment plan will be developed. If that plan involves returning for a procedure at a later date, that procedure can be scheduled at that time.
Before our veterinarians have examined a patient, it is difficult to predict the details of a treatment plan, so cost is similarly difficult to estimate precisely. Once one of our veterinarians has examined your pet and proposed a treatment plan, you’ll be provided with a cost estimate for that plan. Any additional problems that are revealed by the oral diagnostics performed under anesthesia will be promptly communicated and discussed with you so that you can decide the course of action.
To us, each patient deserves a thoughtful evaluation, and each pet owner deserves a thorough explanation of oral examination findings and the treatment plan. We schedule consultations for new patients Monday-Thursday afternoons so that we can spend the mornings performing treatment and procedures. Doing treatment and procedures in the morning allows us to monitor our patients’ anesthetic recovery over the course of the afternoon and discharge them to go home the same day. Given the time constraints of our schedule, unless there is a medical emergency, deviation from the normal flow of our hospital is not beneficial for patients.
Animal Dental Clinic works with all providers of pet insurance, though we do require payment at the time of service. It is advisable to contact your insurance company before your pet’s procedure to find out the details of coverage for the intended treatment. We will provide your insurance company with any documentation needed for you to receive reimbursement.
Animal Dental Clinic requires payment at the time of service. We work with CareCredit to provide our clients with financial flexibility.
Despite appearances, most pets with oral disease are in discomfort and their mouth doesn’t function properly. Treatment of the oral disease aims to remove the source of oral pain, control infection and/or tumors and allow for return to normal oral function. It’s not uncommon that we see our patients back for recheck and hear that “he’s acting like a puppy again,” or “she hasn’t played like that since she was a kitten.” While chronic pain and/or infection in animals can be very hard to detect from outward appearances, removing it can cause dramatic improvements in their quality of life.
At Animal Dental Clinic, all procedures of tooth scaling and polishing are performed under anesthesia, with the intent of treating and/or preventing periodontal disease in cats and dogs. Periodontal disease occurs around the tooth root. While it may be visually satisfying, simply cleaning the teeth without oral diagnostics is insufficient and may be detrimental patients for established periodontitis. For this reason (just like your dentist), we always perform oral diagnostics, including dental radiographs and periodontal probing prior to scaling and polishing teeth. Performing oral diagnostics allows us to find and treat the periodontal disease, rather than allowing it to continue its course despite the “clean” surface appearance. In addition, oral diagnostics provides information about other dental and oral problems. For more information, please see our General Dentistry page.
Simply removing plaque and calculus from the teeth without performing diagnostics to find underlying disease (which is usually present), or other treatments to address that underlying disease is not in a pet’s best interest. While it’s reasonable to be concerned about general anesthesia in a pet, our approach to our patients’ tailored anesthetic plans ensures that risks are minimized. To prevent and reduce anesthetic complications, we maintain patients at an appropriate depth of anesthesia, rely on oral nerve blocks for pain control (which reduces a patient’s general anesthetic drug requirements), and utilize two staff members (one technician and one veterinarian) to directly monitor each anesthesthetized patient.
There isn’t really much preparation required on the part of the pet owner. Your pet should have an empty stomach. Your pet can be fed the night before the procedure, but should not be fed anything after midnight. Water can remain available overnight.. Since pets with medical conditions and very young animals have different needs, please discuss these instructions with your veterinarian ahead of time.
Every pet’s procedure is slightly different, so specific instructions may vary somewhat. You’ll receive your pet’s specific instructions when your pet is discharged. In general, our patients don’t require much nursing care at home. They are able to walk out of the hospital and eat and drink on their own. Because they may still be metabolizing some of their anesthetic drugs, they may not feel 100% themselves, so it’s still important to keep them quiet, usually just for the evening of the procedure. Please restrict activity to leash walks and offer only small amounts of food and water at a time. Your pet may be discharged with medications. Please give these according to labeled instructions. Our staff will let you know when the first doses should be given.
Treatment and recovery time varies by patient, but in general, patients with procedures scheduled in the morning will go home by mid-afternoon the same day. When your pet is admitted, our staff will let you know an approximate discharge time. We will keep you up to date if there are any changes.
Following graduation from veterinary school, and completion of either an internship or spending time working in veterinary practice (or both), our veterinarians began residency training. While an internship is usually a year-long period of additional training in many areas of veterinary practice, such as emergency medicine, internal medicine, surgery, cardiology, etc, a residency is a several (3-6)-year period of intensive training in a particular area of specialty- in the case of our veterinarians- dentistry and oral surgery. Residency training includes clinical practice, teaching, and research. Upon successful completion of residency requirements, candidates are eligible to take a rigorous examination that qualifies them as a Diplomate of the American Veterinary Dental College; a board-certified specialist in veterinary dentistry. Please see our veterinarians’ bios for the specifics of their training.
Each member of our highly-trained patient care team has a specific job to do. When a pet is admitted to our clinic for a procedure, he/she will be examined by a veterinarian who will make the anesthetic plan. The veterinarian or a veterinary technician under the supervision of the veterinarian will administer medications as prescribed and prepare the pet for the procedure. Two staff members, the veterinarian and another member of our technical staff will monitor the patient’s vital signs and adjust the anesthetic plan accordingly throughout the entire procedure.
Most procedures begin with dental radiographs, which are obtained by a member of our technical staff. Pre-treatment photographs are taken for the patient’s medical record. Then, plaque and calculus are removed from the teeth by a veterinary technician/assistant with hand and/or ultrasonic scalers, followed by polishing of the teeth. The veterinarian performs a complete oral examination, including periodontal probing, and exploration with the findings recorded in the patient’s dental chart. Based on these evaluations and interpretation of dental radiographs, the veterinarian communicates the findings and discusses any potential changes to the initial treatment plan with the pet’s owner. Once the final plan is in aproved, the veterinarian proceeds with any additional treatments required. It is important to note that at Animal Dental Clinic, all oral treatments other than dental scaling and polishing are performed by our veterinarians. Once treatment is completed, post-operative pain medications are administered (if needed), and the patient recovers from anesthesia, closely monitored by our staff. Once recovery is complete, the patient is discharged to his/her owner with complete home care instructions.