Dental Procedures

Dental Care

Dental problems are as common in dogs and cats as they are in humans. Without proper dental care, periodontal disease can go undetected until symptoms appear. Signs of periodontal disease in your pet may include bad breath, tooth or gum pain, loose teeth, and reluctance to eat. Untreated periodontal disease may progress to tooth loss, permanent gum damage, or gum infections, which could become systemic.

In the clinical setting, all our interventions are customized to the health needs of your pet; however, the information provided below offers a broad overview we hope you find useful.

If you have specific questions for our doctors or veterinary technicians, you may contact us by phone at [859]-273-1933 or email us at today.

Preoperative Care

  • We are committed to your pet’s systemic and oral health
  • To assess your pet’s general health, we perform a physical examination, along with an oral exam—both while your pet is awake
  • Our team will look for common problems such as cracked teeth, loose teeth, worn teeth, and tooth resorption
  • We’ll also check for signs of dental or gum pain, as well as any other potential causes for discomfort
Step 1: Preoperative Physical and Intraoral Examination

  • Our findings may require that we perform blood tests on your pet to ensure safety during the procedure
  • If the procedure is not an emergency, preoperative bloodwork can be obtained through your family vet
Step 2: Preoperative Bloodwork

  • Depending on your pet’s overall health, we may administer antibiotics, either orally or via injection, on the day of the procedure
  • Removal of tartar from your pet’s teeth can release bacteria, an immune challenge that most healthy animals can handle easily
  • Pets with severe periodontal disease or preexisting heart, liver, or kidney disease may be given antibiotics prior to a dentistry procedure to strengthen their immune systems
Step 3: Preoperative Antibiotics

  • Prior to the procedure your pet will be given an anesthetic similar to morphine, which will help provide pain relief and sedation. This allows our team to use fewer inhalant sedatives, thus minimizing risk to your pet
Step 4: Advanced Pain Management

  • For your pet’s safety, our team will administer a general anesthetic, which ensures that your animal will remain sedated throughout the procedure
  • To administer the anesthetic, we will insert a small intravenous catheter–this will require us to shave a small patch on your pet’s leg
Step 1: Intravenous Catheter Placement

  • Next, your pet will be placed on intravenous fluids. IV fluids are administered to help maintain your pet’s blood pressure and to help our surgical team assess organ function during the procedure
  • Fluids are delivered at a specific flow rate, controlled by an IV fluid pump
Step 2: IV Fluids

  • Prior to the procedure, your pet will be intubated. A tube is inserted in the trachea, allowing administration of inhaled anesthetic. During the procedure, your pet will breathe a mixture of air and anesthetic. Anesthetic levels are monitored throughout the procedure and are adjusted to ensure the appropriate depth of sedation.
Step 3: General Anesthesia

  • Your pet’s heart rate and rhythm are monitored throughout the procedure via EKG
  • To maintain safe oxygen levels in your pet’s blood, our team will use a pulse oximeter
  • Our surgical technicians also monitor your pet’s body temperature, breathing rate, carbon dioxide exhaled
Step 4: Anesthetic Monitoring

  • A dedicated technician will monitor your pet’s vital signs throughout the procedure
  • Our technician will listen for pulse strength and heart sounds to help regulate the depth of sedation
  • A warming pad is provided to help your pet maintain a safe and comfortable body temperature during the procedure
Step 5: Intraoperative Monitoring

  • In some patients with dental or periodontal disease, we use nerve blocks to achieve total anesthesia to a localized area.
Step 6: Nerve Blocks
During the Procedure

  • Each pet is assigned a dedicated, pre-sterilized set of surgical instruments and an oral surgery pack for the procedure.
Step 1: Dental & Surgical Instruments

  • To reduce the bacterial load on your pet (and our staff) during surgery, we will rinse your pet’s mouth with chlorhexidine, a topical disinfectant.
Step 2: Chlorhexidine Rinse

  • We will remove the plaque and calculus from your pet’s tooth enamel using an ultrasonic scaling tool.
Step 3: Supragingival Scaling

  • Ultrasonics are also useful in removing subgingival plaque and tartar. It’s here where disease-promoting bacteria hide and cause damage.
Step 4: Ultrasonics and the Gums

  • We will polish the surface of your pet’s teeth to smooth away any rough areas where bacteria could collect.
Step 5: Polishing

  • To assess and record your pet’s oral health, it’s common to probe several sites along the gumline to check for potential tooth detachment. (Normal tooth pocket depth for cats is 3mm and for dogs is between 0.5 and 1mm.) We’ll also perform an oral exam and chart the current condition of your pet’s gums and teeth for future reference.
Step 6: Probing and Charting

  • Some key features of your pet’s mouth can only be viewed properly using radiography (x-rays). When used in combination with probing and charting, radiographs give us the information needed to make informed diagnostic and treatment decisions.
Step 7: Radiography

  • We use dissolving stitches in our oral surgery patients to minimize discomfort and to eliminate the need for additional interventions.
Step 8: Surgery Site Closure
After The Operation

  • Immediately after the procedure, your pet will be placed in a quiet, darkened room and given a warm blanket. Your pet may recover here until they’re able to stand without assistance.
  • We offer a complimentary 2-week follow up exam to ensure that your pet’s healing and recovery are going as planned.
Postoperative Care
Care At Home

  • The success of any dentistry procedure depends on the amount of plaque and tartar on your pet’s teeth. Keeping your pet healthy between vet visits means having an oral health routine in place. We recommend that you brush your pet’s teeth daily and use only products approved by the Veterinary Oral Health Council ( Need help? Ask our staff to help you customize an oral care regimen that meets your pet’s needs.
Follow-up Home Care