Information for Clients - Texas A&M Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital in College Station, Texas Information for Clients - Texas A&M Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital

Information for Clients

For small animal appointments call (979) 845-2351 Monday - Friday 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Emergencies accepted 24 hours a day

What is involved when your pet visits the dentist?

Your beloved pet's visit with the dentist is a lot more than removing tartar from teeth. Our goal is to restore your four-legged family member's mouth to its normal, fresh, healthy state! Having your pet's teeth professionally evaluated and cleaned is one of the most important medical treatments you can invest in that will result in long-term good health.

We are committed to keeping your pet's teeth as healthy as possible. The condition of the oral cavity of each pet is different and treatments will be adjusted to fit their needs.

A general health and preliminary oral examination will be performed in order to identify obvious health and oral issues. A complete oral examination can only be performed under general anesthesia. Part of the anesthetic workup may include blood work, urinalysis, chest x-rays and an electrocardiogram (EKG) of the heart to evaluate what is going on inside of your pet's body.

During general anesthesia, intravenous (IV) fluids will be given to help maintain proper blood flow to internal organs and tissues. All vital signs including EKG, blood pressure and temperature will be continually monitored during the anesthetic procedure. Additional warmth (if needed) can be provided by a gentle stream of warmed air or a warmwater blanket.

A complete oral examination and dental charting will be performed. This charting includes noting any missing, loose, fractured, extra or abnormal teeth. The surrounding soft tissues in the mouth will be checked for masses, abnormal gum tissue or signs of infection. Teeth cleaning begins with removal of tartar from the crowns and is followed by cleaning the teeth below the gum line. Simply removing the tartar from the crowns makes the teeth look better, but cleaning the teeth below the gum line is extremely important in controlling dental disease.

The sulcus around the teeth will be evaluated using an instrument called a periodontal probe. This measures the depth of the small pocket around each tooth and helps us determine if periodontal disease is affecting any of the teeth. Teeth with abnormal measurements will be x-rayed to determine what is going on below the gum line. Teeth affected with periodontal disease will be treated by cleaning the root surface and application of an antibiotic gel (Doxirobe™) or extracted, depending on the severity.

Any teeth noted to be fractured or missing teeth will be x-rayed. Evaluation of missing teeth is necessary to determine if they were never formed, if they are impacted or if the crowns are fractured and the roots left behind to become infected. Fractured teeth are x-rayed to determine if the pulp cavity has been compromised and needs root canal therapy or extraction. Fractured teeth should never be ignored as this could lead to an abscess and possibly cause disease in other body organs (liver, kidneys, heart, etc). Fractures of the enamel and dentin that do not expose pulp can be treated with composites or sealants to prevent further damage. Intraoperative and postoperative pain management will be provided for your pet's oral comfort.

After all teeth are appropriately treated, they are polished to remove any scratches that might be present on the crown. The teeth are completely dried and a barrier sealant (Oravet®) is applied to decrease the rate at which plaque attaches to the crown.

After the cleaning and treatments are completed, your pet will be awakened from general anesthesia. Postoperative monitoring will continue until your pet is discharged from the hospital.

Home care is extremely important in maintaining the oral health of your family friend. You will be provided instructions and home products for you to use. These products will vary as we attempt to find the right combination of home dental care that works best for you and your beloved four-legged family member.


How to Brush Your Pet's Teeth

Pets are an important part of our lives for many years. Good dental care is essential to extend your pet's life span and assure a good quality of life. Just like you, your pet needs to receive daily dental care at home. It is best to begin home care when the puppy or kitten is between 8 and 12 weeks of age; however, it is never too late. If the animal has any accumulated tartar, it must be removed ultrasonically at the clinic. This process, called a prophylaxis, will allow you to start your home care with teeth that are free of plaque and tartar and will make your efforts easier and more effective.

The daily brushing process should be pleasant for both you and your pet. Many pets enjoy the added attention while many owners look forward to the close quality time spent with their companion animal.

The supplies you need are a finger brush and CET pet dentifrice. Most animals accept brushing very well if they are introduced to the procedure in a calm and patient way. The best way is as follows:

  • Day 1: Gently pet and scratch the muzzle, slowly lifting the lip for about 30 seconds. Reward with a treat at the end of the session.
  • Day 2: Repeat as above except gently run your finger over your pet's teeth for 30 to 45 seconds. Reward and praise again.
  • Day 3: Repeat Day 2, adding 15 seconds time to running your finger over your pet's teeth. Always reward with praise and treat.
  • Day 4: If all is going well, insert the finger brush over your index finger and then gently insert into your pet's mouth and rub the teeth for about 30 seconds.
  • Day 5: Repeat as above and increase the time the finger brush is in your pet's mouth by 30 seconds.
  • Day 6: Repeat as above, adding a small amount of the CET dentifrice to the finger brush and gently pass it over the teeth.
  • Day 7: You know your pet best of all. If you feel that he/she is accepting the brushing well, gradually increase the brushing time until you are able to spend at least one minute on each side.

At any time that your pet is resistant, stop and wait until the next day. If your pet is still resistant, contact our office and our technicians will be happy to assist you.

Helpful Hints

  • Be patient. Take time with the process or else the pet may become resistant.
  • Praise your pet. It's a new experience and praising your pet will make him or her more receptive.
  • Reward your pet with treats at the end of each session. Remember, always make it fun!
  • Stop immediately if your pet shows any signs of aggression. Call the hospital for advice.
  • Human toothpaste is for humans and NOT for pets. It is common for human toothpaste to cause stomach problems and even vomiting.
  • Brushing the teeth at home will decrease the frequency of professional dental care.
  • Remember, always make it fun!

10 Reasons NOT to use anesthesia-free pet dental cleanings for your pets:

  1. A thorough exam and cleaning can’t be done on a dog or cat that is awake.
  2. Most oral disease happens below your pet’s gum line and dental x-rays are the only way to identify painful problems such as fractured teeth, periodontal disease or other problems. Dental x-rays can’t be performed on an awake pet.
  3. Cleaning and scaling below the gum line is important because it’s where periodontal disease is most active. This can’t be done without anesthesia.
  4. Anesthesia-free dental cleanings require a pet to be restrained while having their teeth scraped, which is both stressful and likely painful for them.
  5. Anesthesia allows us to properly care for your pet’s teeth safely, adequately and without pain.
  6. Anesthesia-free dental scaling without proper polishing leaves a surface on the pet’s teeth that promotes faster growth of the bacteria that causes periodontal disease.
  7. Anesthesia-free dental cleanings give pet owners a false sense of security. Unfortunately, just because their pet’s teeth appear cleaner doesn't mean they are free from oral disease.
  8. There are significantly increasing numbers of pets who, after a number of years of anesthesia-free dental cleanings, have developed severe periodontal disease resulting in multiple extractions or need for extensive treatment.
  9. Periodontal disease is the most common clinical condition occurring in dogs and cats. Unfortunately there are typically no visible signs until it has progressed too far to be able to treat and save teeth. Anesthesia-free dental cleanings do not begin to even identify, let alone address periodontal disease.
  10. The cost of anesthesia free dental cleanings may seem less. However, they put a pet owner at great risk for far more extensive costs in the future to treat problems that have been left untreated for a number of years.


VIDEO: What happens during an oral exam while your pet is under anesthesia