Tex's dental procedure

Tex is a 4 year old domestic short hair cat who visited us for his booster vaccinations. During a routine physical examination, Tex was noted to have inflamed gums (gingivitis) and plaque on his teeth. If left untreated, Tex's dental disease would only worsen and he would eventually develop cavities in the teeth, gingival recession, and loss of teeth. A painful situation to be in!

Tex was booked in for a day procedure to have his teeth thoroughly assessed, cleaned and polished (a dental). Unlike humans who are mostly happy to sit in the dentist chair and open their mouth wide, pets need to be fully anaethetised for dental procedures.

On the day of the procedure, Tex was admitted first thing in the morning after an overnight fast from food and his health assessed to proceed with the dental. It is recommend that all pets have a pre-anaesthetic blood test to check the function of the major organs like the liver and kidney, whose job is to rid the body of drugs and medications. It also identifies abnormalities in blood cells which may affect the ability to carry oxygen, fight infection and clot blood at surgical sites. Once Tex was settled in hospital, a small sample of his blood was taken from his jugular (neck) vein and processed in our laboratory in the clinic.

The blood tests were found to be normal and Tex was judged to be a good candidate for anaesthesia and dentistry. If his results were abnormal, however, our veterinarian may have chosen to alter his anaesthetic or even postpone treatment until his problems were addressed.

A sedative was given to relax Tex and then his anaesthetic agent was administered via his intravenous line previously placed in his foreleg vein. Now that Tex was relaxed and under anaesthetic, the veterinarian inserted an endotracheal tube into his trachea. This then provided a clear airway so that anaesthetic gas and oxygen can be delivered safely. While under anaesthetic we monitored Tex's respiratory rate, heart rate, oxygen levels, blood pressure and temperature via specialised equipment.

The first part of the procedure was to scale and clean Tex's teeth. An ultrasonic scaler was used to separate the plaque from the teeth with high frequency vibrations. Any large deposits of plaque need to be manually removed before the ultrasonic scaler is used. Then each individual tooth was closely assessed for health with specialised dental equipement which probed around the gum line and ensured there were no pocketting or enamel deficits. If required, teeth could be extracted at this point.

The cleaning of Tex's teeth was followed by the use of a high speed polishing tool which is specifically designed to flare in a bell shape so that all parts of the teeth could be reached with the special animal toothpaste.

Once Tex's dental procedure was finished, he was awakened slowly from his anaesthetic in a warm and cosy hospital bed. The endotracheal tube was left in until we were satisfied Tex could protect his own airway and he was frequently checked on throughout the course of the afternoon. Once he had recovered from the anaesthetic and the veterinarian had checked him over, Tex was free to go home. His parents were given strict instructions on anaesthetic and dental home care so his teeth remains sparkly and his breath fresh.