Pet Dental Health: Why does it cost so much to clean my pet’s teeth?

The veterinary team at Fairgrounds Animal Hospital is proud of our gold standard or care for our patients along with our use of fear free techniques.
With this in mind:
• We advise that all pets are seen by their veterinarian for a preventative exam which includes a thorough assessment of major body systems, including the heart, lungs, eyes, ears and mouth annually or every 6 months if they are 6 years or older, or a senior pet. This assists our veterinary team with creating the best anesthetic plan for each patient and provides a complete picture of each patient’s health.
• We keep our treatment rooms stocked with clearly labeled vital supplies readily available in case of an emergency.
• Our hospital is kept sanitary with frequent hand-washing and the use of antibacterial agents to disinfect all patient areas.
• Our veterinary team is trained in fear free techniques which includes proper restraint and humane handling techniques to ensure that every patient is treated with compassion and feels comfortable and safe while receiving the medical care they need.
• Our veterinary team provides client education and a full estimate with a low and high end for every procedure performed in our hospital. We strongly believe that going over any questions that you may have and educating you about your pet’s health and procedure will ease any anxiety that you may have about your pet’s general health and the care that they will receive in our hospital, as well as assist you with making the most informed decision possible in terms of your pets care.
• Our veterinary team will always offer preventative options for several reasons, first and most importantly to benefit the overall health of your pet and second to prevent unnecessary follow up visits if possible. Which can be costly to you and stressful for your pet. For example, if your pet requires extractions, it is recommended that is done during their teeth cleaning as opposed to making several visits.

What about Dental Estimates?

Dental Consultations include both client education and an estimate for recommended dental care for your pet. Here’s what to expect at your pet’s dental consultation.

The recommended level of care can cause the cost of your pet’s dental estimate to vary, here are some things that may cause the cost of your pet’s dental procedure to vary:
1. Proper pre-anesthetic bloodwork and exam: A complete physical exam and pre-anesthetic testing will help your veterinary team determine if there are any physical issues that could increase the risk for problems under anesthesia (e.g., heart disease, kidney disease). Knowing a patient’s health status can help the veterinarian determine the safest anesthesia plan for your pet. To maintain a gold standard of care, our hospital will always recommend pre-anesthetic blood work and an exam, especially for patients over 6 years old, which are considered senior pets.
2. Anesthesia: Gas anesthesia with intubation to protect the airway from fluid and debris is essential. While anesthetized, your pet should be monitored for signs of problems with the anesthesia. This may include heart, blood pressure, blood oxygen, carbon dioxide level and temperature monitoring. With proper monitoring, potential problems with anesthesia can be recognized and corrected early.
3. Dental X-rays: Most of the tooth structure is below the gumline. X-rays are a way to see the tooth root and supportive structures to determine if there are problems. Many times, a tooth may look healthy on the surface but can be fractured or infected below the gumline.
4. Complete oral exam: Just like your dentist does for you, your veterinary team should examine and document the health of your pet’s mouth. This includes looking for abnormal masses, broken and worn teeth, missing teeth, tartar and plaque, and bleeding or pocketing of the gums. These are all things that our veterinary team will look for in your pet’s consultation, but a full thorough exam is not possible until your pet is not sedated.
5. Complete dental cleaning: Using hand instruments and mechanical instruments such as ultrasonic scalers, your veterinary team can remove plaque and tartar from above and below the gumline in a safe and effective manner. After cleaning the teeth, it is essential that the teeth be polished to smooth out any microscopic scratches resulting from the cleaning. This means fewer nooks and crannies for the plaque and tartar to grab on to!
6. Non-traumatic oral surgery: If your pet needs to have extractions or other oral surgery, proper instruments can help your veterinarian cause the least trauma and discomfort to your pet. This results in a quicker recovery with less pain and chance of infection.
7. Medications: Depending on the severity of your pet’s dental and periodontal disease, your veterinarian may prescribe painkillers, anti-inflammatories, antibiotics, supplements or special diets to help your pet recover and maintain a healthy mouth.
If you have any questions about dental estimates or procedures or you would like to schedule a dental consultation for your pet, our veterinary team is here to help you, please call our office at (775) 329-4106.