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Pets require dental care like humans do to prevent dental disease. At Allambie Vet, we prioritise the prevention of dental issues because the health of their teeth and gums significantly impacts their overall quality of life. Regular brushing and occasional dental cleaning (scale and polish, under general anesthesia) are necessary. Some pets are more susceptible to dental disease and may require additional care, such as dietary changes, special chews, and frequent cleaning to prevent tooth decay and loss. Keep in mind that not addressing your pets' dental hygiene can lead to bad breath, dental problems and other serious health issues. 

Our veterinarians are highly knowledgeable in dentistry and have the latest dental equipment, including state-of-the-art dental machines, dental radiography, and surgical extraction instruments. With their exceptional skills and advanced training, your pets will receive the best possible dental care.

Please read through the FAQs below. As involved as it may sound, a dental procedure will ensure your pet is happier, healthier and pain-free. 

Feel free to ask us any questions about your pet's dental health or upcoming procedure. We're always happy to help in any way we can.

What does dentistry involve at Allambie Vet?

We can see if there is any noticeable dental disease in your pet's mouth during an examination. A conscious exam gives us an idea of what we may need to do during a dental procedure, but it can be difficult to thoroughly examine the mouth as we can only see the crowns of the teeth, not the roots. 

An accurate diagnosis or specific recommendations can only be made once your pet is anaesthetised. A tentative diagnosis and estimate for the dental procedure can be made, but without anaesthesia, it is impossible to determine the full extent of any dental issue.

After the patient is under anesthesia, we will conduct a complete oral examination. If we find the need to modify the previously established treatment plan, our veterinarian will contact you to discuss the new findings. We will need to adjust the treatment plan and provide you with a more precise cost.

What is Periodontal Disease?

Periodontal disease affects about 80% of dogs and 70% of cats over three years of age. It is a chronic bacterial infection, which causes destruction of the supporting tissues around the teeth. Gum recession and tooth root exposure are signs that the jawbone is being damaged. In advanced cases, there can be enough bone loss that the jaw may break.

What are resorptive lesions in cats?

Dental resorptive lesions are found lurking in the mouths of 1 in 3 cats. These are deep holes in the teeth, caused by the body’s own immune system, which results in nerve exposure and pain. We do know they are extremely painful.

Although cats are very adept at masking their pain, if we anaesthetise a cat, deeply enough to do surgery on it, and touch the teeth lightly with a dental probe, the jaw will chatter and the heart rate will soar due to the intense pain. Extraction of the affected teeth offers instant relief and cats are significantly more comfortable.

Does my pet require dental radiographs?

Dental radiographs are essential in diagnosis and treatment planning, just like when we go to the dentist. Over 2/3 of the tooth is below the gum line and not visible without radiographs. In pets with no visual or oral disease, radiographs have been shown to demonstrate dental disease in 28% of dogs and 47% of cats.

We recommend all patients should have dental radiographs. We understand clients might opt to not have dental radiographs taken. In particular, cases radiographs are essential. E.g. Tooth root abscess or feline oral resorptive lesions.

Our nurse will check if you would like to proceed when patients are admitted for dentistry. 

What is involved in a scale and polish?

Dental plaque and tartar are scaled off using an ultrasonic scaler. These scalers allow us to remove more bacteria without damaging the teeth and gums. Once the tartar is removed, we can assess and measure the periodontal pockets to see if the tooth roots are healthy. Unhealthy teeth include fractures, exposed roots, deep periodontal pockets, mobility, holes and infections. If there are deep pockets, the tooth is extracted as plaque and calculus will reform under the gum line and cause ongoing infection and discomfort.

What if my pet requires extractions?

Teeth are surgically removed after a local anesthetic nerve block is administered. Using nerve blocks will keep your pet comfortable during the procedure and recovery. In most cases, your pet will require sutures in the gums. These sutures will dissolve, so they will not need to be removed later.

We use very similar equipment to human dentists. The IM3 Delux GS unit provides a high-speed drill with an LED light source, water and chlorhexidine antibacterial spray, and a low-speed polishing device. This is the top of the range regarding dental prophylaxis equipment. We use a new burr for each patient as reusing the burrs can cause them to become blunt, cause damage the bone and prolong the extraction time.

Will my pet be painful after dental extractions?

Teeth are surgically removed after a local anesthetic nerve block is administered. Using nerve blocks will keep help keep your pet comfortable during the recovery period. Patients are sent home with pain relief medications for a few days. Some patients require antibiotics; this will depend on the severity of the infection present.

After dental extractions, some blood-tinged saliva may be around the mouth for the first 24 hours. Feeding soft food for a few days while any mouth lesions heal is recommended. In addition, no chew or tug toys for up to 2 weeks during the healing process.

I have been told my pet requires full mouth extractions

Extracting all the teeth from your pet is not something we would undertake lightly but for some of our patients with certain oral problems it really is the best option. They still eat really well afterwards and are often much happier after having the painful teeth removed and the gum tissue less inflamed.

Full mouth extractions really are hard to estimate – the price varies with the time for surgery (i.e. how many teeth need to be removed, how hard they are to get out, how long your pet needs to stay in hospital (usually 1-2 nights) and the different medical/GA requirements. Sometimes this procedure needs to be staged.

What is the cost of dentistry?

Our veterinarians individualise their dental treatment recommendations based on many factors, including the exact nature of the problem, as well as the overall health of your pet (including medical conditions that may affect their medication requirements, anaesthetic and recovery).

Please be aware that it is not unusual for the veterinarian to contact you during the dental procedure, as they may have found more severe disease than anticipated. A significant portion of the tooth is hidden under the gum line, the tooth roots, ligaments and bone.

The price range for extractions really does vary on how many teeth need to come out and the degree of difficulty – being predators, cat and dog teeth have evolved complex root systems that are designed to stop their teeth from being pulled out under the forces of hunting, which makes extraction a challenge.

If cost is a concern, please discuss it with us. We can tailor particular parts of the treatment plan to accommodate your financial situation.

Does my pet need any preparation for dental treatment?

Pet dental treatment is always done under anaesthetic – it’s just not possible to properly clean below the gumline in a conscious pet. Cleaning below the gumline is essential for proper treatment, as this area is where a lot of plaque and bacteria that cause painful periodontal disease hide!

To safely prepare your pet for the anaesthetic, we ask that you do not give your pet any food from 9pm onwards the night before the booked procedure. Water is OK overnight, but then please take this away early on the morning of the procedure, so your pet arrives to us with an empty stomach. This helps prevent one common anaesthetic risk (vomiting under anaesthetic).

Depending on your pet’s age, we may also make individual recommendations to perform blood tests to check that your dog’s or cat’s liver and kidneys can safely handle an anaesthetic and pain relief medications.

When your pet is admitted into hospital for a dental procedure, you will need to complete a Dental Admission Form.

Please remember we are here to help your pets live their best life. If you have any concerns you can reach out to the treating vet to discuss these anytime. 

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