Bellevue Veterinary Hospital, Parksville

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Dentistry

Bellevue Vet Clinic offers pet dentistryMore and more is known about the importance of dental health and its influence on the overall health of the body. Our hospital is equipped with digital dental x-ray capability for visualizing the details of oral health below the gum line -- which is where over 50% of dental tissue exists!

Several of our veterinarians have participated in, and continue to pursue, intensive training in the most up-to-date theory and techniques in veterinary dentistry.

Dentistry F.A.Q.'s

Why should we consider our pets' teeth?

Dental health has a significant influence on the rest of the body. When not kept in check, bacteria in the mouth can invade below the gum line, cause dental decay and affect deeper tissues and cause chronic infections. Sometimes these infections can even travel further to other organs through the bloodstream. Our veterinarians recommend maintaining your pet's dental health through annual check-ups. Some pets will require more frequent cleanings and dental exams than others, depending on age, breed, and individual variation.

Potential Consequences of Not Maintaining Dental Health:

  • Gingivitis
  • Periodontal disease
  • Foul breath
  • Pain
  • Infection
  • Tooth loss
  • Systemic disease
  • e.g. heart, kidneys

Why does a veterinary dentistry require a general anesthetic?

A general anesthesia is required for our veterinary team to do a reasonable job of a dental cleaning and thorough examination.

Reasons for this are:

  • Examination, cleaning and polishing of all surfaces of the teeth, right to the back of the mouth.
  • Examination and cleaning below the gum line

Dental cleanings that are done without attention to the area under the gum line are leaving behind a lot of plaque, tartar and bacteria to continue the progression of decay.

Cleanings without general anesthetic are only cosmetic (at best!)

  • Dental x-rays are often indicated

Dental x-rays are very helpful to assess health of the tissues beneath the gum line (bone support, periodontal ligament, and root of each tooth).

  • Dental extractions when indicated

What about teeth that need to be pulled?

Dogs & cats have much longer dental roots than those of humans. Not all tooth extractions are the same. Some teeth are simply ready to fall out! Some have three roots and only one of the roots is diseased (so two are holding strong!) Some teeth have very little root left and others have huge roots (sometimes almost twice the size of the crown!)

So they are not all treated exactly the same.

But most extractions require local anesthesia (or similar to the "freezing" that you get at the dentist). In veterinary dentistry, this decreases the amount of anesthetic gas required to keep the patient anesthetized. It also improves the patient's comfort level during recovery and beyond.Other analgesics are given during and post-operatively as well as following the procedure for 2-3 days, depending on the patient (and on the extraction).

Extractions of multi-rooted teeth usually require cutting them into their individual root/crown sections. This allows each piece to be manipulated separately.

Many extractions also involve making a "flap" of tissue (gingiva & periosteum) and then suturing that closed (with dissolvable suture) after the tooth is out. (The photo shows sutured extraction sites - 2 adjacent teeth have been extracted.)

What about pain?

We are very attentive to our patient's comfort level.

Good pain control decreases the amount of anesthetic required to keep the patient "asleep" for a surgical procedure.

Various methods of surgical and medical analgesia = pain control are used (daily) in our hospital. These different approaches are summarized as follows:

Pre-anesthetic medications: Before the patient goes under general anesthesia, a sedation is given that also includes some pain control medication. If pain control is dealt with before it's really needed, the patient experiences less discomfort to begin with and will require less pain medication overall. 

Local anesthesia: This is when lidocaine or bupivicaine is instilled locally around a nerve that influences the site of the procedure or surgery. A good example of this is when we use dental nerve blocks during a tooth extraction in veterinary dentistry.

Intra-operative pain medications: Often medications are given intravenously just prior or during a procedure to add pain control to our anesthetic protocol.
Post-operative analgesics: These medications include injectable drugs given in the clinic after the procedure, as well as meds that go home with the pet for a few days after a procedure.

Medical short-term & long-term analgesics: These medications are often anti-inflammatory drugs to ease the discomfort of a temporary injury or alleviate the inflammation of ongoing arthritis. Sometimes other types of prescription pain relievers are also added or used on their own.