Dentistry + Oral Surgery

Tricolored beagle laying on the exam table

Learning that your pet needs surgery can be an overwhelming experience, especially if you are unsure of what the procedure entails. At Anicira, we work with pet parents to ensure you are well-informed before your pet’s surgery. Our veterinary team provides compassionate care before, during, and after surgery to ensure your pet is safe and comfortable.

What is a COHAT, and why does my pet need one?

COHAT stands for Comprehensive Oral Health Assessment and Treatment. This procedure prevents and treats dental diseases, removes broken or diseased teeth, and removes masses in the mouth.

How common is dental disease in pets?

According to the American Veterinary Dental College, periodontal disease is the most common clinical condition occurring in adult dogs and cats. It is estimated that over 70% of dogs and cats over the age of three have some evidence of this disease, and it is entirely preventable.

Signs and symptoms of periodontal disease include red or swollen gums, bad breath, a yellow-brown crust near the gum line, discomfort when the mouth or gums are touched, loose teeth, and a possible decrease in appetite or weight loss due to difficulty chewing. Periodontal disease may lead to systemic infections and possibly damage the heart, liver, and kidneys.

Why are radiographs important during a dentistry procedure?

Dental radiographs (x-rays) are one of the most important diagnostic tools available. Advanced radiography equipment at our facility includes digital intraoral veterinary dental x-rays, which provide superior quality for examination of individual teeth or sections of the jaws. These radiographs help us assess potential diseases hiding below the gum line that could be missed without quality radiographs.

Radiographs allow the internal anatomy of the teeth, tooth roots, and the bone that surrounds the roots to be examined. They are also used to identify problems with the crowns and roots of the teeth, as well as the jawbones, nasal cavity, and soft tissues of the mouth.

Radiographs also help examine teeth that appear healthy but may be compromised on the inside and can help identify many conditions that may otherwise go undiagnosed.

Pre-Surgical Instructions

Admission Time – Bring your pet to Anicira at 7 am.
Food – You may feed your pet a quarter of their normal breakfast no later than 6 am.
Water – Your pet may have water until the surgery.
Pre-surgical exam – Your pet must be in good health and show no signs of sickness, such as coughing, sneezing, or diarrhea.
Medical records – Please bring proof of rabies vaccination if you have not already provided this. If your cat or dog has not been previously vaccinated or lacks proof of vaccination, we will administer a rabies vaccine on the day of surgery. If you have not already sent your medical records, please bring all relevant medical records.

Dentistry and Oral Surgery

Before surgery, our veterinary team will perform a thorough pre-surgical examination to ensure your pet is a good candidate for anesthesia. Pre-anesthetic blood work is required to ensure that no health concerns go undetected.

Your pet will be under general anesthesia. A veterinarian will perform an initial evaluation of your pet’s mouth in search of any noticeable abnormalities, injuries, or growths. Using an ultrasonic scaler, a skilled technician will remove tartar and debris from the teeth, gums, and between the teeth.

Probing is performed using a periodontal probe, which measures the depth of the pocket between the teeth and gums, checking for any excessive pockets or areas of detachments. If there are pockets and they are left, they will accumulate food and other debris and become a breeding ground for infection, leading to tooth decay and tooth loss. The veterinarian will check the depth of any pockets and any loss of gum attachment and keep the findings in your pet’s dental records.

Full mouth x-rays will be taken, with an x-ray film placed within your pet’s mouth, just like in humans.

Finally, the veterinarian will treat any additional concerns in the mouth. Treatments could involve extracting teeth, application of antibiotic gel to deep pockets, or removal or biopsy of oral tumors.

At Anicira, we will extract (remove) all teeth that have disease that cannot be reversed. You will not receive a call for further consent. This is to avoid patients remaining under anesthesia for a prolonged period of time.

In some uncommon situations, there may be teeth that could be saved using advanced periodontal therapies (ie root canal). If your pet has a tooth that is a candidate for advanced periodontal therapies not offered at Anicira, you will have the option to select:
1. Prefer referral to a veterinary dental specialist
2. Prefer Anicira to extract these teeth during your visit

Please make sure you discuss your preference with the dental team member you will meet with on the morning of your appointment.

What to Expect After the Dental Procedure

Anesthesia may take 24 to 48 hours to wear off.

  • Your pet may be groggy or whiny during this time.
  • Keep your pet confined in a secure, quiet, and comfortable space. We recommend a crate or a small room.
  • Isolate them from other pets and children while recovering.

Sensitive mouth

  • Depending on the extent of dental disease and the type of procedures performed, it is possible that for several days after the visit, your pet may be sensitive around his/her mouth and may experience difficulty chewing.
  • Blood-tinged saliva may be observed for several days after extractions and dental surgery but should decrease in color and consistency.

Offer food & water after surgery

  • When your pet returns home, offer them food and water. Canned food or moistened dry food is recommended.
  • Anesthesia may cause nausea, so your pet may not be interested in food
  • If vomiting occurs, wait 12 hours before offering more food.
  • Resume regular feeding schedule the day after surgery.
  • If your pet refuses to eat, you may try offering a bland diet such as white rice and lean protein (for example, boiled chicken breast) while they regain a normal appetite.
  • Please do not feed your pet junk food, table scraps, or milk.

Give all medications as directed

  • Your pet may be sent home with medication to control post-operative pain and/or an antibiotic. Please follow the instructions on the label.
  • If possible, please give the medications with food. If your pet has no appetite, please ensure they still take the medications.
  • OTC pain relievers such as Tylenol and Advil are toxic to pets. Please do not give these to your pet.

Other shaved areas

  • Your pet will likely have shaved areas on one or more legs from where an IV catheter was placed and under the tail for monitoring equipment during anesthesia.
  • These areas may be irritated or bruised. If your pet is excessively licking, please use a taste deterrent spray or e-collar to prevent self-trauma.
  • If your pet went home with a brightly colored wrap on their leg, this should be removed 30 minutes after returning home.

To continue excellent dental care, we recommend brushing your pet’s teeth at home daily. A veterinary care team member can review the proper care you should provide at home.

Rare, but serious surgical complications

Complications from dentistry and oral surgery are rare. If your pet experiences these issues after surgery, please contact Anicira.

  • Hemorrhaging
  • Infection
  • Mouth trauma
  • Dehiscence
  • Lip entrapment
  • Oronasal fistulas – opening between the oral and nasal cavity
  • Jaw fracture
  • Fractured tooth roots
  • Trauma to remaining teeth
  • Fracture of bone that contains the tooth sockets (alveolar bone)
  • Ocular trauma

Please contact Anicira, your primary care veterinarian, or an emergency clinic if any of the following occur:

  • Pale gums
  • Severe pain, depression or weakness
  • Vomiting or Diarrhea
  • Labored breathing
  • Decreased appetite for more than 24 hours
  • Lethargy lasting more than 24 hours