Questions & answers comfort confidence

Dental and oral health care in pets is just as important as dental and oral health care in humans, and maintaining good dental health will prevent your animals from unnecessary pain and discomfort.

Plaque can lead to gingivitis and progressive harmful infections of soft tissue and bones that support the teeth, so it’s essential to get your animal periodically checked. Pets also use their teeth to explore the world, play with other animals and toys and often to gnaw on hard bones or treats. Because of this, excessive wearing of teeth and broken teeth are not uncommon.

Cats and dogs need dental and oral health care just as much as we do, and a healthy mouth will result in a happy pet.

Most cats and dogs will experience dental problems at some point in their lives. In fact, some studies say that 80% of pets over the age of three will suffer from dental issues. The most common problem is periodontal disease. Other common issues are broken teeth from accidents and chewing hard materials such as bones, hooves, or antlers, severely worn teeth from chewing on tennis balls or rough fabric frisbees, retained baby teeth, poor bite alignment and oral cancers.

Dr. Bissett has extensive experience in managing and treating patients that have underlying diseases or organ dysfunction while under anesthesia. It has been well documented that treating periodontal disease and underlying tooth abscesses reduces the stress on organs of the body and may actually improve some of the function and blood marker parameters after treatment. Chronic infection and pain in the mouth can make diabetes management in patients more difficult to keep blood sugars well controlled.

Age itself is not a disease. Our patients are living much longer than they used to, in part to better veterinary care. Dr. Bissett has extensive experience with managing geriatric patients under anesthesia. Dr. Bissett has worked on a 22-year-old cat and an 18-year-old dog! Both patients did very well through anesthesia and their recovery and lived out their remaining time with comfortable and healthy mouths.

We work closely with a board-certified veterinary anesthesia specialist for those patients that require a specially tailored anesthesia protocol and case management.

Monitoring of a broken tooth is never the best course of action  as these teeth are always painful and will always become infected and non-vital. Dogs and cats actually have more nerve and pain sensors in their teeth than people (50,000 to 75,000 per square millimetre!) so even a small piece of missing tooth can result in a large amount of pain. We see many patients suffering with abscesses (pus pocket) in the bone surrounding the root, a problem that can only be seen in a dental x-ray. An abscess can even rupture and drain to the outside of the skin on the face from a long-standing infected tooth. 

If one of your pet’s teeth is a distinctly different colour (grey, tan, pink, purple) than the adjacent teeth, this is usually an indicator that the tooth is no longer alive and needs attention. Even if these teeth do not appear to be bothering your pet, non-vital teeth grow bacteria inside the tooth and this leads to chronic infection and pain. If this is an important tooth, such as a canine or carnassial tooth, root canal therapy is often recommended.

It’s never easy to hear that your pet needs surgery, but our team offers you peace of mind from beginning to end. We start by developing a treatment plan that you feel comfortable and confident with, walk you through every step and even allow you to visit your pet in the  procedure areas so that you can fully understand your pet’s condition and treatment plan.

At EVDS, we are a referral-only practice, meaning that every patient we work with is referred to us by a primary care veterinarian. This is in place because we only offer advanced dentistry and oral surgery services. We do not provide any general practice services.

We value the special relationship that you and your pet have with your primary care veterinary team and as such, will have them perform any necessary pre-surgical blood work, chest or abdomen x-rays or echocardiogram (ultrasound of the heart) studies.

Your regular veterinarian will forward your pet’s medical records, including diagnostic tests, to us so that we have your pet’s important medical history. Once we receive this information, we can set up a consultation and put together a report outlining the next steps and treatment plan.

When your pet’s examination and/or procedure is completed, we’ll also create a conclusive report with photographs, x-rays, descriptions and other important information for you and your primary care veterinarian to keep on file.

It is recommended that patients requiring a procedure have bloodwork completed. This helps us determine if there are any underlying concerns that would require special medications or protocols, or prevent the use of certain medication during or after your pet’s procedure. 

Your pet’s bloodwork should be completed by your primary care veterinarian prior to our consultation.

When it comes to dental care in animals, anesthesia is  a requirement. A big reason for this is because oral issues are often uncomfortable and painful. For pets, the experience of having unfamiliar tools in and around their mouth can also be very stressful. Most patients do not appreciate being handled and manipulated so that we can work in their mouths extensively with instruments while awake.  Anesthesia helps us complete our comprehensive assessment and treatment by taking away any fear from your cat or dog and ensuring a pain-free experience.  Examination and treatment under anesthesia also protects our staff members from being injured from animal bites or scratches.  It is impossible to adequately, and appropriately, examine the entire oral cavity while a patient is awake.

Please see the following information and position statement from the American Veterinary Dental College on non-anesthetic dental cleanings:

See AVDC FAQs  |  Visit AVDC blog

We ask that all pets have an empty stomach before coming in for a surgical procedure, so don’t feed your pet during the 8-12 hours before their appointment. Water is ok up to 2 hours before a procedure.

An easy way to accomplish this is by making sure there is no food available after midnight the evening before a surgery. In the morning, you should also skip over your pet’s regular breakfast unless you have been given other instructions by Dr. Bissett. The majority of our surgeries take place mid-morning and mid-afternoon, so this should be the perfect timeline.

The only exception to this rule occurs with very young animals or if your pet is on certain medications. If your pet is of a very small body weight range, Dr. Bissett will discuss a shortened fasting period with you.

At the time of consultation, Dr. Bissett will discuss starting certain medications the night before or morning of the procedure to start the relaxation and pre-anesthesia management phase. This will help make your pet the most comfortable possible starting from before you even leave home.

In most cases, your pet will fully recover from the anesthetic within 24 hours. But over the course of the following weeks, we usually recommend a few changes to their regular routine. For example, hard chew toys and treats should be avoided, along with rough play and excessive running.

Depending on the surgery, we may also recommend a softened diet. This can be as simple as adding a bit of hot water to your pet’s kibble and letting it soak to soften.

Prior to your pet’s discharge, we will provide written detailed instructions, review these instructions with you along with any medications that your pet will have for post procedure treatment.

Pain medication, oral rinses or antibiotics may be prescribed after surgery. Before you leave the clinic, we’ll make sure that you’re fully informed of your pet’s treatment plan. It is important to note that the majority of patients do not require oral antibiotics after their procedure.  The mouth has an amazing ability to heal and has an extensive blood supply network that brings healing cells to the area once treatment is complete. The need for antibiotics is recommended on a case-by-case basis.

If your cat or dog is on any other medications or supplements, please let us know before surgery.

Just like your own teeth, your pet also requires dental cleaning and care! Brushing is the best way to maintain a healthy mouth and keep harmful bacteria at bay. We understand that not all patients are compliant or can be brushed easily. We can discuss ongoing home care options with you.

During the initial consultation, we can contact your insurance company to determine your level of coverage and how much of your pet’s treatment is eligible to be covered. We also handle all the paperwork once your pet is out of surgery.

At this time, we do not offer direct billing. 

Payment is due at the time of service. 

At this time, we cannot extend credit or payment plans.

We can discuss pet financing program options with you.

When you visit your own dentist, you often have someone who does your check-up and cleaning, but if there are any additional issues, you may be referred to an advanced care provider. This is the same in veterinary dentistry! Not all veterinarians are trained beyond the basics, so in cases where further help is required, our advanced team at EVDS is contacted.

Your primary care veterinarian is a vital part of your pet’s dental and oral health care management. However, there are several conditions or situations in which a patient needs services that cannot be provided in a general practice setting, or a patient has other underlying conditions that need to be delicately managed under anesthesia.  Veterinarians who have completed a residency training program in dentistry and oral surgery have intensely trained for these treatments and patients for an additional 3 to 4 years beyond their 4 years of regular veterinary schooling.