Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some questions/answers that we are frequently asked. If you have additional questions that aren't covered here, please feel free to call us at Animal Dental Specialists, 315-445-5640.
Referring Veterinarians: DURING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC, WHAT DENTAL PROBLEMS ARE CONSIDERED URGENT AND SHOULD BE REFERRED FOR TREATMENT PROMPTLY?
- Jaw fractures
- Injuries still happen, and these patients should be referred promptly. A tape muzzle may be applied until the patient can be treated.
- Acutely fractured teeth
- A fractured deciduous tooth in a puppy or kitten, whether acutely fractured or discolored and non-vital, should be extracted immediately. Fractured puppy teeth have been associated with an increased risk of tetanus if the non-vital pulp becomes contaminated by Clostridium tetani bacteria.
- Permanent teeth in a dog or cat less than 1 year of age – pulp exposure in an immature tooth needs treatment within 48 hours to save the tooth. If extraction is the owner’s preference, then pain meds should be given until a procedure can be scheduled.
- Acute fractures of permanent teeth in a mature dog or cat are painful and should be treated promptly.
- Facial swelling
- A dog or cat that has facial swelling is often in pain and should be evaluated as an emergency. Dental fractures may require extraction or endodontic therapy. If you need help choosing, please reach out to us with a photo of the tooth.
- Oral masses
- Rapidly growing oral masses (in any age animal!) need a biopsy and intraoral radiographs as soon as possible. If a maxillectomy or mandibulectomy is necessary, these will be performed promptly.
- Traumatically luxated teeth
- Traumatically luxated or avulsed teeth must be replaced and stabilized under anesthesia within 48 hours if the tooth is going to be saved.
- Animals that are hungry but unwilling to eat due to oral pain
- Animals with periodontal disease and mobile teeth may or may not be an emergency. Although a chronic condition, treatment may be emergent if acute-on-chronic pain causes unwillingness or inability to eat.
- Cats and dogs with stomatitis may need to be handled as emergency surgery. A temporary feeding tube is often placed to provide nutritional support following surgery.
- Cats with resorptive lesions are usually not an emergency unless the cat is unwilling to eat due to pain.
- Cleft palate
- These patients often have time-sensitive surgical needs. Please ask for advice.
- Young patients have time-sensitive needs and those will be managed promptly.
- Older patients with chronic malocclusion are not considered to be emergent unless oronasal communication has occurred.
There may be other valid reasons for an emergent dental referral. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to reach out to our office for guidance.
WHY IS ANIMAL DENTISTRY IMPORTANT?
Dentistry is important primarily from the standpoints of infection control and pain relief for our animal patients. Because bacteria are normal inhabitants of the mouth, disease states may be either caused by, or rapidly contaminated by, bacteria. Untreated, this bacterial load may certainly compromise the health status of the whole patient. Infection of oral tissues does not remain only in the mouth. Oral tissues are served by a rich vascular supply, which disperse bacteria and the by-products of infection to the rest of the body. In addition to a rich blood supply, dental structures are well supplied by sensory nerves. Thus, oral disease is frequently very painful, especially in the acute stage. Most veterinary patients suffer silently, and don't communicate to their owners that a painful condition exists. It is rare for animals to stop eating due to dental pain, as most pet food is swallowed whole without chewing. Some animals need their teeth for function, such as military and police dogs, and dogs that assist humans with disabilities, who use their teeth to grasp objects the owners cannot. Animals use their teeth for recreation, holding things in their mouth such as a Frisbee or a toy mouse. Finally, the teeth help provide the contours of the face, giving our animal companions their unique aesthetic appeal.
WHO IS DR. ERIC M. DAVIS? (click to find out)
WHY SHOULD I SEE A SPECIALIST FOR MY PET'S DENTAL PROBLEM?
Dentistry is a very broad and complex subject, which includes such disciplines as periodontics, endodontics, orthodontics, and oral surgery. Dr. Davis has had years of experience and advanced training in the diagnosis and treatment of oral disease in animals. He was required to demonstrate his knowledge, skill and experience in order to be accepted as a Diplomate of the American Veterinary Dental College. As general practitioners, veterinarians have training to manage most common dental problems in animal patients. Sometimes however, complicated dental problems are recognized which the general practitioner may not have the equipment or the training to manage. Such cases are then referred to a veterinary dental specialist such as Dr. Davis. Dr. Davis will maintain close communication with your veterinarian, to learn about your pet's overall health as well as the dental problem your pet has, ahead of your appointment. Following treatment, Dr. Davis will send a complete written report to your regular veterinarian including photographs and radiographs (X-rays) of your pet for inclusion in the written medical record kept at your veterinarian's hospital.
HOW ARE FEES DETERMINED?
After the initial consultation, a written estimate for treatment will be provided. The estimate is a rough guess, based on the findings during oral examination of the conscious patient. Whereas most human patients will sit in the dentist chair to permit the dentist to probe the mouth with delicate instruments and to enable dental X-rays to be taken to diagnose a problem, animal patients will not stay still with a piece of dental film in their mouth. Therefore, only after the patient is placed under general anesthesia can dental X-rays and a thorough clinical examination be performed in an animal's mouth. That information is crucial before an accurate estimate for treatment can be provided. After dental treatment has been authorized, Dr. Davis and the technical staff will place the patient under general anesthesia, clean and X-ray the teeth, and perform a thorough oral examination. At that point, if additional disease is discovered, the owner will be contacted and a revised estimate will be provided. Additional treatment will not be performed without the owner's expressed authorization and consent, even if it means a second anesthetic session will be necessary to perform the treatment.
WHAT PAYMENT OPTIONS ARE THERE?
Our office accepts most major credit cards (MasterCard, Visa, Discover, American Express, PayPal), Apple Pay, and Android Pay. In addition, we participate in two payment plan options that permit extended payment plans and/or no interest payment plans, subject to credit approval and credit availability: CareCredit and Scratchpay (see links below for more information). We do not accept checks and are not currently accepting cash. If you have Trupanion pet insurance, we are happy to process your pet's invoice via the Trupanion Express portal.
HOW SAFE IS THE ANESTHESIA?
Click here for a document describing more information as to what to expect when your pet is brought in for an anesthetic procedure here: Anesthesia: What to Expect
To become a Diplomate of the American Veterinary Dental College, additional training in veterinary anesthesia and pain management is required, since dentistry in animals can not be safely done without general anesthesia. Although there is always some small degree of risk to any patient (human or animal) undergoing general anesthesia, we take extraordinary measures to make anesthesia as safe as possible. First, a pre-operative physical examination and blood analysis is required of all patients prior to administration of anesthetic drugs. The results may affect which anesthetic or pain medication we use if liver or kidney malfunction is detected.
In patients with heart abnormalities and in all older pets, an electrocardiogram is also performed before administration of general anesthesia. With the patient fully awake, small clips are attached to the animal's legs and an electrocardiogram is transmitted to a board certified veterinary cardiologist. The cardiologist provides a report with their assessment within 20 minutes, confirming if your pet can be safely placed under general anesthesia or if a heart abnormality is detected.
Once we have determined that it is safe to proceed, your pet will receive an injection of a mild narcotic drug. This medication provides gentle sedation to relieve patient anxiety and alleviates any discomfort when the intravenous catheter is placed. All of our patients receive warmed, intravenous fluids before, during and after general anesthesia to maintain organ perfusion, and to assist with blood pressure maintenance. Once anesthetized, several monitoring devices are attached to the animal to permit continuous assessment of electrocardiogram, blood pressure, pulse rate, respiratory rate, body temperature and oxygen perfusion.
While Dr. Davis and a Licensed Veterinary Technician are working in the animal's oral cavity, another Licensed Veterinary Technician has the sole responsibility of monitoring the patient under anesthesia and recording the data on a graph. The information from the various monitors permit trends to be recognized that enable us to make adjustments in the level of anesthesia so the patient is not too deep, but yet feels no pain. Because anesthesia causes the body's temperature to go down, a heated pad is placed under your pet (called a Hot Dog) and a thermal blanket (called a Bair Hugger) will completely cover the animal, surrounding the patient in a layer of heated air. Dr. Davis will place a regional nerve block (like novocaine, but longer lasting) in any area expected to result in oral pain. Using local nerve blocks for dental surgery usually permits the level of general anesthesia to be reduced because the local pain is numbed. In addition to the pre-operative narcotic, injectable pain medications are given during and after the procedure as well, and oral or topical pain medications are also dispensed at the time of patient discharge from the hospital.
HOW DO I FIND THE OFFICE? (click for directions)