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The Importance of Pet Dental Health

Dental problems are one of the most common quality of life issues our older patients face. Neglected teeth lead to kidney damage, heart valve infections and other ailments that cause premature aging and death. This leads to the ‘put him down, he’s old and worn out’ that all veterinarians hate.

A thorough cleaning involves far more than brushing the teeth (although we strongly encourage you to do home brushing). If your groomer brushes your pet’s teeth, that is wonderful. It is not the same thing as a thorough cleaning. Cleaning along the gumline, and in the grove between the gums and roots is so vital that failure to use anesthetic and do a thorough job is considered malpractice. Dental polishers and high speed scalers are considered essential.

Dogs’ large teeth are anchored by powerful roots. They are also common locations for root abscesses. Veterinary dental experts consider it impossible to properly remove these teeth without high speed drills and other specialized equipment; there is too much risk of breaking a jaw or causing other injury.

In fact, it is so hard to tell what is going on below the gumline that we have invested in digital dental radiographs. Failure to offer this is becoming failure to offer proper dental care. Many clinics have yet to make this investment.

We recognize how important the teeth are to your pet’s health. That is why we have made continuous investments in equipment and training. In recent years we have:

  1. Added a high speed drill (making difficult extractions possible)
  2. Upgraded our software (allows dental charts as part of your pet’s electronic record)
  3. Invested in a high tech monitor (making the anesthetic experience even safer)
  4. Purchased a digital dental x ray machine and software (This also allows bioglass bone grafts to treat bone loss from infection)
  5. Replaced the high speed scaler (helps to insure reliable operation of this critical tool)
  6. Attended multiple dental meetings and training sessions(both Veterinarians and technicians)
  7. Revamped the entire dental setup(allowing us to continue offering great care to your pets)
Dr.McManus preparing to take digital dental radiographs

Dr.McManus preparing to take digital dental radiographs

dental scaling with anesthetic monitoring

dental scaling with anesthetic monitoring

 

Our recent upgrade

The most visible change is the replacement of our dental station with a stainless steel wet table (pictured center). Dr. Cole teamed up with building engineer Ed LeValley (pictured bottom) and Tim Lockard to rebuild the dental station from the concrete floor up. The new unit is easy to sanitize and replaces the enamel tub (pictured top ) built into a concrete bench that was part of the initial construction Drs Don and Judy made in 1974.

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The new dental unit (below) is an upgrade, as well as replacement, for the previously used human dental equipment that was purchased in 2010. It offers several advantages. The high speed drill is oil free, eliminating the chance of oil exposure to a patient. The ultrasonic scaler now features piezo technology(ultrasonic scaling without heat production). Dental experts have called the new technology ‘gentler’ on the teeth. We can flush out pockets of infection with disinfectant instead of just water and air. The old magnetorestrictive technology generated more heat and we had to take great care to protect the teeth from damage caused by overheating. The previous equipment also required a lot of water to keep cool, so we had to control the airway to make sure it didn’t end up in the lungs. We do still closely monitor these things, but the piezo technology provides an extra margin of safety as well as more precision and power, requiring less time under anesthesia for the pet.

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The accumulative upgrades allow not only faster work to minimize anesthetic time, but allow us to identify problems early and offer more treatment options. The whole system was designed from the ground up to make disinfecting easier. It is part of our commitment to offer the best possible care to the pets so important to your life, while still recognizing the need to keep it affordable. We can do much more than before, but the price for a routine cleaning has not changed since 2010.