Your Pet’s Dental – A Behind The Scenes Look At Your Pet’s Day


Big Lick Veterinary Services is very excited to participate in National Pet Dental Month by offering a 20% discount from out dental cleanings this January and February. Dental cleanings not only allow us to clean your pet’s teeth, but they also allow us to thoroughly examine your pet’s mouth, x-ray their teeth, and perform necessary treatments to keep your pet’s mouth healthy.

What is required for your pet to have a dental cleaning? Your pet should have a current exam and current bloodwork (within the past 6 months or sooner, based on your pet’s individual needs). However, if neither the bloodwork or exam is current, they can both be performed the day of the procedure in our inhouse lab.

When your pet has a dental cleaning with Big Lick Vet, your pet will need to be brought into the office between 7:30 am and 8:00 am for the check in process the morning of the procedure. You can expect to spend 15-20 minutes to complete the check in, which includes a detailed history, authorization of treatments, an estimate of charges, and a good contact number for the day.

Your pet will have a preanesthetic exam with the doctor the morning of the procedure to ensure your pet’s heart and lungs auscultate within normal parameters for anesthesia. If it has not yet been performed, your pet will have bloodwork run in our inhouse lab to better evaluate organ function as well as a CBC to help mitigate the risks associated with anesthesia. Once your pet passes the preanesthetic bloodwork screen and the preanesthetic exam, your pet will receive a preanesthetic injection to help your pet relax. Once your pet is slightly sedated, your pet will be prepared for anesthesia, which includes intravenous (or IV) catheter placement. This IV catheter allows your pet to have intravenous fluid therapy throughout the procedure, as well as giving immediate access the vein in the event of an emergency. Once your pet has been induced and intubated, your pet’s vital signs will be monitored by a dedicated technician, thermometer (temperature), electrocardiogram (electrical signal from the heart and heart rate), pulse oximeter (oxygen saturation in the blood). Temperature, pulse, respiration, and blood pressure will all be closely monitored to ensure anesthetic safety.

Once your pet is safely situated with the monitoring and warming equipment, and has achieved the proper plane of anesthesia, the oral exam and teeth cleaning may begin. We start by removing the calculus and tartar from your pet’s teeth using an ultrasonic dental scaler, as seen in human dentistry. Based on the condition of your pet’s mouth, it may take as little as 10, and as much as 45 minutes to remove the build up from your pet’s teeth. Once the debris is removed, each tooth is evaluated for any signs of concern such as changes in the gingiva, discoloration, enamel defects, fractures, malocclusions, and more. Once the outside surface of the tooth and gingiva have been evaluated, dental radiographs are performed.

Dental radiographs are imperative to properly diagnosing and evaluating the health and condition of your pet’s teeth, and in many cases, can readily reveal sources of pain such as apical root abscesses, fractured roots, or pulpitis, which otherwise would not have been found without radiograph. Once radiographs have been performed, the doctor may begin addressing any problematic teeth or gingiva as necessary. Once your pet’s entire mouth has been evaluated, and any problematic teeth addressed, your pet’s teeth will also be polished . Polishing your pet’s teeth is much more than making them shine. Polishing is just as important as scaling away the large visible debris as it smooths and removes any tiny abrasions or imperfections left behind by the scaling process. Without proper polishing, those tiny imperfections act as a catch for debris to build up in your pet’s mouth even more quickly.

As soon as the procedure is completed, your pet is removed from anesthesia and into recovery where a dedicated team supports and cares for your pet. It is at this time that one of our staff will call you with an update on your pet’s status and can schedule a discharge appointment for you to come and pick up your pet later that afternoon. At pick up, you can expect to spend some time with one of the assistants to review the details of your pet’s dental health as well as the treatments performed earlier that day and recommendations to help your pet keep a healthier mouth between dental cleanings. If your pet required dental work such as extractions or crown amputations, the assistant will review medications and home care instructions for your pet to ensure a comfortable and smooth recovery at home.

If you’re interested in scheduling a dental cleaning for your pet, or would like to schedule an exam to have your pet’s mouth evaluated to see if your pet could benefit from a dental cleaning, please call our office at 540-776-0700