Veterinary Dentistry is an often-ignored part of your pet’s total health picture. The consequences are far worse than bad breath. Hidden dental infections are a leading cause of heart valve infections, kidney infections and can even result in a broken jaw from rotting teeth. Since it is so important to the wellbeing of our patients, we have prioritized investments in this area since 2011 when we brought in a used dental cart from a human dentist. From this humble start, we quickly jumped to a modern veterinary dental station with ultrasonic scalers plus high and low-speed equipment.
We believe we were the first clinic in Champaign and surrounding counties to offer digital dental x rays, We made this investment because teeth that look fine on examination can be harboring deep and potentially painful secrets. We’ve had patients that wouldn’t eat, including one cat that was hand fed by the dedicated family for months. Examinations and even dental cleanings didn’t help. After taking x rays of the entire mouth hidden abscesses or root remnants left below the gumline were found and treated, resulting in a cure. We are convinced dental x rays are essential to really understand what is going on in the mouth.
Thanks to a donation from Dr. Mack Wright DDS, and yet further investment, we are now able to seal some dental fractures to protect the pulp cavity and save teeth that would otherwise require extraction. Synthetic bone grafts and long-lasting antibiotic/polymer infusions are other tools we use to help maintain a healthy mouth and kissing fresh breath.
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 injuries.
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:
- Added a high speed drill (making difficult extractions possible)
- Upgraded our software (allows dental charts as part of your pet’s electronic record)
- Invested in a high tech monitor (making the anesthetic experience even safer)
- Purchased a digital dental x ray machine and software (This also allows bioglass bone grafts to treat bone loss from infection)
- Replaced the high speed scaler (helps to insure reliable operation of this critical tool)
- Attended multiple dental meetings and training sessions (both Veterinarians and technicians)
- Revamped the entire dental setup (allowing us to continue offering great care to your pets)
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.
We have also added a dental curing light and the ability to fill and seal certain defects. This allows some damaged teeth to be treated without extraction, if caught soon enough. These accumulative upgrades allow not only faster work to minimize anesthetic time, but allow us to identify problems early and offer more treatment options. The station 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.