530 Massachusetts Avenue, Boxborough, MA 01719
p: (978) 929-9200 • f: 978-929-9979
email: reception@veterinarydental.com

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is a Board Certified Veterinary Dentist and why should my pet see one?

A Board Certified Veterinary Dentist is a Veterinarian that has been certified by the American Veterinary Dental College (AVDC). Board certification is the highest level of specialization that may be attained in the veterinary field, requiring 2-6 years of additional training, specific to the specialty. Once a veterinarian has completed this training they must pass a rigorous written and practical exam before being designated a diplomate.

Dentistry is one of 20 specialty fields in veterinary medicine. Other specialties include, cardiology, dermatology, neurology and dentistry.

Just as the human dentist works with the general practitioner as part of the team in your health, the veterinary dentist is an important part of your pet’s total health care.

Veterinary dentists are experienced in all aspects of oral health, including the diagnosis and treatment of periodontal disease, gingivitis, periodontitis, tooth resorption, fractured teeth, oral masses, trauma, malocclusions, abscessed teeth, and stomatitis.

What should I expect when I bring my pet in for a consultation?

Consultation visits are scheduled for 45 minutes. During that time your pet will have an oral exam with one of our doctors. Based on that oral exam the doctor will discuss his or her findings with you and the different treatment options available for your pet. The doctor will also answer any questions you might have. A treatment plan will be made which will include an estimate. The technician will then review chews, treats and other products geared for oral health. We also offer a tooth brushing demonstration to all of our clients.

Why do I have to come for an office consultation first? My veterinarian has seen my pet recently.

Our doctors do not take a “one size fits all” approach. Treatment and anesthetic protocol is tailored to each individual patient’s needs based on their health, oral disease and personality. Also it is important to examine your pet first so that we know what to anticipate on the date of anesthesia and surgery. On occasion we can make exception, particularly for clients who are coming from far away, such as out-of-state. Please call our office to discuss this possibility.

What do I need to bring to the appointment?

You should bring a list of medications your pet is taking, including dosage and frequency. We will ask about any other medical issues your pet is having. Sometimes it is easy for our clients to remember this important information if they write it down. If your pet has had any recent blood work please have your veterinarian’s office fax us the results. Proof of rabies vaccination is required - You can bring this certificate with you or have your vet fax a copy prior to the appointment. This is very important, because without proof of a current rabies vaccine we cannot see your pet.

I am concerned about anesthesia. What precautions do you take to ensure my pet’s safety?

Perhaps the greatest concern for many pet owners is in regards to the use of anesthesia. Our pre-anesthesia assessment of your pet and anesthesia protocols are similar in many ways to those in a human surgical setting. We take every reasonable measure to ensure the safety and comfort of our patients.

Prior to your pet’s procedure with us, we require pre-anesthetic blood work, which will help evaluate your pet’s systemic health, including the kidneys and the liver. These are two of the organs that help to filter the anesthetics and sedatives. The blood work will also check white blood cells, red blood cells and other values. If abnormalities are seen on the blood work the doctor will discuss those abnormalities with you, and what they mean for your pet. The pre-anesthetic blood work can be done here at the time of the initial office consultation or with your primary care veterinarian. We do require the blood work be done within one month of your pet’s anesthesia appointment.

Also, if your pet has other health issues, such as cardiac disease, the doctor may require a cardiac work-up with a board certified veterinary cardiologist. This additional testing will help evaluate your pet’s heart before anesthesia.

Once your pet is here, the doctors and staff take many precautions to ensure your pet’s safety and comfort. All of our patients are continuously monitored by one of our highly trained staff members, before, during and after anesthesia. There will be one certified dental technician assisting the doctor, and a separate technician monitoring the patient and anesthesia throughout the procedure.

Your pet will be connected to a high-tech monitor that evaluates the following vital signs: heart rate, blood pressure, temperature, blood oxygen level, respiratory rate, end tidal carbon dioxide and pulse rate. We also monitor for heart arrhythmias by EKG throughout the procedure. Your pet will be kept warm with a warming blanket and a circulating hot water pad.

Local blocks and acupuncture are provided to help control pain and discomfort in many procedures.

Our entire staff take great pride in working with your pet to keep stress levels down, in a calming and sensitive atmosphere to help his/her experience be as positive as possible.

I have been told that my pet cannot be anesthetized for a dental procedure because the risk is too high. Is this true?

It is possible that your pet may not be able to be safely anesthetized. We work on elderly patients with underlying diseases frequently. Our state of the art anesthesia and equipment enables us to work on high risk patients. Please call to schedule a consultation with one our doctors to discuss the risk vs. the benefit.

Why is anesthesia necessary? I have heard of other pets having their teeth scaled while they are awake.

Scaling a pet’s teeth while they are awake is neither safe nor effective. To effectively clean a pet’s teeth the instruments must be used subgingivally (below the gumline), between teeth and in the back of the mouth. This cannot be done on an awake patient because the instruments are very sharp and can lacerate the gums if your pet moves, even slightly. Also, in order to perform a thorough oral exam the doctor will use a periodontal probe under the gumline to measure potential periodontal pockets and gum recession. A thorough exam and cleaning cannot be performed on an awake patient. Please visit http://avdc.org/statements.html for more information.

How much does a cleaning cost?

The cost of the initial consultation/exam is $144.00.

The cost of an oral exam, cleaning, and dental procedures vary depending on many factors, such as how long it takes to clean the teeth, if your pet needs radiographs and how much your pet weighs. A treatment plan will be provided to you at the time of the initial consultation to help you anticipate costs for any recommended treatment. We strive to provide highest quality dental care for your pet while understanding your need to stay within your financial budget. In addition to Master Card, Visa, American Express, Discover, debit cards, check or cash, we also accept Care Credit.

What should I expect on the date of my pet’s procedure?

Most patients are admitted between 7:45-8:30am. You will meet with a veterinary technician who will review your cat or dog’s medical history with you and answer any question you have. You will be asked to sign a treatment plan and consent form, then you are free to leave. The technician will obtain all of your pet’s vital signs, including blood pressure, heart rate, pulses, respiratory rate and temperature. The doctor will review your pet’s record and perform a thorough exam, including listening to the heart to be sure there have been no changes. Once the doctor has determined that your pet is healthy, he/she will be given an injectable sedative. That sedative can take 20 minutes to an hour to take full effect. Once your pet has responded to the sedative, the technician will obtain all of the vital signs again and report any significant changes to the doctor.

Next, the technician will shave and sterilize an area of your pet’s leg and place an IV catheter. An induction agent is given through the catheter which makes your pet totally asleep so that an endotracheal tube can be placed. An endotracheal tube is a plastic tube that is placed into your pet’s airway and then connected to the anesthesia machine. The anesthesia machine will deliver a gas anesthetic and oxygen to your pet throughout the procedure. It is important to place an endotracheal tube so that water and other debris does not enter your pet’s airway during the procedure. Another technician will hook up a high-tech anesthesia monitor that evaluates the following vital signs: heart rate, blood pressure, temperature, blood oxygen level, respiratory rate, end tidal carbon dioxide and pulse rate. We also check closely for heart arrhythmias by EKG throughout the procedure. Your pet will also be kept warm with a warming blanket and a circulating hot water pad.

Once your pet is safely anesthetized and hooked up to all of the equipment a veterinary technician will begin to take xrays of your pet’s mouth. Once the xrays are done the doctor will review the xrays while one of our certified dental technicians cleans your pet’s teeth, and another technician monitors your pet under anesthesia. After the dental cleaning is done the doctor will perform a thorough oral exam while wearing magnification. After the exam is done, the doctor will proceed with the treatment that had already been discussed with you at the initial office consultation. If any new problems have been found, the doctor will call you on the phone to discuss them with you.

After all of the treatment has been performed your pet will be recovered by one the technicians. Our patients wake up quickly, usually within minutes, and are up and walking within 10-15 minutes. We like to watch our patients recover for at least an hour before we discharge them.

During the discharge appointment we will review with you your pet’s procedure, what to expect at home and any follow up care that is needed. A written set of discharge instruction will be sent home in a packet, along with a copy of the xrays, and before and after pictures of your pet’s mouth. We will send a copy of the medical record to your primary care veterinarian.

Do you have to shave my dog or cat?

Yes. We will have to shave your pet’s leg in order to place a sterile IV catheter. An IV catheter is important when a patient is anesthetized. If there were an emergency it gives the doctor easy access to a vein to give rescue drugs. Also, IV fluids will be run throughout the procedure and that is done through the IV catheter. On occasion we do have to shave your pet in other areas for placement of anesthesia monitoring probes. We try not to shave other areas, but ultimately your pet’s safety is the most important factor.

How long will my pet be there? Does he/she have to stay overnight?

Your pet will be here for the whole day. Most patients are admitted between 7:45 and 8:30am and are discharged at 5:30pm. If your pet is awake enough to go home earlier, we will phone you and let you know that. We do not keep patients here overnight, as we are not a 24 hour facility. If the doctor feels that your pet needs overnight care we will refer to your primary care veterinarian’s office. If your veterinarian does not provide overnight care, we will locate a facility that does. It is extremely rare that we recommend overnight care.

Can I stay with my pet during the procedure?

You are welcome to wait in our client lounge on the day of your pet's procedure. We have television, WiFi, comfortable seating and a desk. If you prefer an outing to help pass the time, we will be happy to share information about the local area including historical sights, library, restaurants, etc., and we will be in touch with you by phone if any questions arise, or to provide updates.

Do you offer payment plans?

We accept Master Card, Visa, American Express, Discover, debit cards, check, cash, and Care Credit. Care Credit is a financing option, offering six month interest free payments, and can be applied for in-person at our office or online at www.CareCredit.com.

My primary care veterinarian did not refer me to you. Can I still make an appointment?

Of course! Whether formally referred by your veterinarian or scheduled independently, your appointment with Veterinary Dental Services, LLC is an important part of the overall care of your pet. We provide copies of your pet’s dental records to your primary care veterinarian, in an effort to keep your veterinarian informed, and to provide the best health care for your pet.

Veterinary Dental Services, LLC
530 Massachusetts Avenue, Boxborough, MA 01719 · (978) 929-9200
FAX: 978-929-9979 Email: reception@veterinarydental.com

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