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A good job of finding & fixing oral problems takes more than just a quick look
Oral examination in an awake animal can give some clues about oral problems. However, even in the most cooperative patients, this does not provide the complete picture. Further diagnostics are needed to fully assess the extent and severity of the problem. These diagnostic tests, while not usually painful, require a patient to be completely still while they are performed, so a patient undergoing diagnostic procedures needs an appropriate level of anesthesia. Once these procedures have been completed and the oral problem has been fully assessed, treatment, which usually also requires general anesthesia, can begin.
At Animal Dental Clinic, preparing a patient for an anesthetic procedure entails a comprehensive assessment of their overall health status. This ensures that the patient is a good candidate for anesthesia, and that any additional risk factors, such as heart or kidney disease, are identified so that the anesthetic plan can be customized to more completely meet that patient’s unique needs.
Because animals don’t “open wide” for the dentist.
Determining a patient’s suitability for anesthesia involves confirming that the expected benefits of treatment merit the possible risks, considering that without treatment, the pet would continue on with progression of their current oral pain and/or dysfunction.
Great care is taken throughout the entire process from preparation to induction to monitoring and recovery to ensure excellent outcomes for our patients. Each patient’s anesthetic plan is customized to the requirements of their health status and the procedure, allowing for a smooth and rapid return to normal activities with appropriate and lasting treatment of pain.
At the time of your pet’s consultation, the veterinarian will determine if your pet has any risk factors for anesthesia, discuss their concerns as well as yours, and describe the process and their expectations. The anesthetic plan for the pet is informed by the results of the pet’s physical examination and blood work results. When these findings reveal a possible problem, this, as well as the potential for further diagnostic testing, is discussed with the pet owner. All of these steps are taken to be confident that a pet is can safely undergo anesthesia, and that the additional risk factors (if any) are known. Taking this careful approach generates anesthetic plans that are customized to the pet’s condition and requirements for the procedure.
Many people are concerned about the idea of anesthesia in pets. While concern and caution are justified, when proper steps are taken, risks are low, and the benefits of treatment are significant. One thing that many concerned pet owners don’t realize is that anesthesia isn’t just an “off” or “on” process. There are different planes, or depths, of anesthesia, ranging from light to deep. Procedures like supragingival (above the gumline) scaling and polishing, which do not cause pain are done with patients maintained at a fairly light plane of anesthetic, while surgery (including subgingival [below the gumline] scaling) means that local anesthesia and other medications for pain control are needed. At Animal Dental Clinic, our patients are maintained only at the plane of anesthesia needed for their procedures, but no deeper. Further, we take additional steps to ensure that pain is prevented and controlled. For most patients, the goal is to see them go home soon after their anesthetic recovery, feeling well and comfortable.
Whenever possible, pain should be prevented. When performing dentistry and oral surgery, we are frequently presented with the opportunity to do so, as local and/or regional nerve blocks can prevent discomfort and pain before it is perceived by the brain. Nerve blocks are performed during procedures that would otherwise be painful, such as scaling plaque and calculus from tooth roots or other surgical procedures. This not only controls pain during the procedure but also provides lasting pain control, as well as allows for a patient to be maintained at a lighter level of general anesthesia.
At Animal Dental Clinic, each anesthetized patient has two people monitoring their status. Even while performing treatments, the veterinarian caring for the pet is constantly receiving updates from the technical staff about the pet’s status and progress. That staff member reporting to the veterinarian is dedicated exclusively that patient’s anesthetic monitoring and doesn’t take on other jobs until the patient is recovered. Their job is to check and record vital parameters such as temperature, heart rate, blood pressure, CO2 levels, respiration, and tissue oxygenation. This team approach ensures that the patient’s anesthetic plan is constantly being tailored to the patient’s dynamic needs.
One staff member continuously records the patient’s vital signs, reports the patient’s status to the veterinarian, and makes adjustments accordingly, while another uses a doppler to monitor the patient’s blood pressure.
At Animal Dental Clinic, anesthetic plans for our patients are customized to allow patients to recover quickly from their anesthesia, as long as it’s appropriate. Whether a brief or prolonged procedure was needed, and whether the recovery is intended to proceed quickly or more gradually, each patient is thoroughly supported and monitored closely to ensure they are comfortable, steady on their feet, and feeling well when they go home.