My pet's dental procedure is going to cost what???
Sticker shock. We understand! This is one of the most common treatment plans we give as a veterinary hospital. It is often met with a sigh, a "holy cow!", or "I guess my youngest one will have to get a scholarship!". All kidding aside, we know this important procedure can be one of your biggest annual expenses where your pet is concerned. Because a good professional dental cleaning and oral assessment is so integral to your pet's good health, we would like to shed some light on what actually happens on the day of cleaning at our hospital.
We hope this will also help pet owners understand why the cost, though it varies from hospital to hospital, begins generally in the $400 range.
Click on the chihuahua to watch this short, instructional video showing how to brush your pet's teeth
Did you know?
*By age 3, 70% of cats & 80% of dogs have some form of periodontal disease.
*Dental x-rays allow the internal anatomy of teeth, roots and the bone that surrounds the roots to be examined.
Dr. Hew or Dr. Rose most likely discussed your pet's dental health during an annual visit, or even during a sick care visit. Most pets over 3 years of age have some degree of dental disease. During an exam it is not always easy for the veterinarian to get a really great look inside of your pet's mouth; panting, licking, movement, your pet's excitement and/or anxiety are all barriers to a really thorough mouth exam. Only after we have your pet under anesthesia can we get a full picture as to what may be needed to treat your pet's dental disease. This is the primary reason we say your pet's dental will start at a certain dollar figure; it is based on what the doctor can see of the teeth and gums during exam.
Only after the doctor or dental technician has probed under the gums, taken dental x-rays, or removed enough hard, calcified tarter from the teeth to see them well will we have an idea of what issues may need to be addressed.
In order to get to the probing and x-ray stage, we first need to anesthetize your pet. At Hammocks, your pet's doctor will have completed a comprehensive pre-surgical exam and reviewed pre-anesthetic blood work to ensure your pet's values indicate they are healthy enough to undergo anesthesia.
Next, we'll place an IV catheter and start intravenous fluids to help protect your pet's organs against the depressive effects of anesthesia. We then prepare your pet for anesthesia using pre-anesthetic or "induction" agents. We place an endotracheal tube and administer general anesthesia until the procedure is complete; typically we plan for an hour and a half. During the entire procedure a technician is solely dedicated to monitoring and charting your pets vital signs (this includes post-procedure recovery monitoring too) while another technician and the veterinarian are working inside of your pet's mouth. Three staff members at any given time are dedicated to your pet. All of the care listed here is included in the base price of our dental procedures.
After your pet has been intubated and anesthesia is underway, we take dental radiographs (x-rays). This vitally important component of your pet's procedure allows the doctor to see below the gum line and beyond heavy calculus to see broken teeth, teeth that never erupted through the gum line properly, crown fractures, infected roots, cysts and other dental disease. This x-ray unit is completely separate from our digital imaging machine for large body parts and was a separate purchase made only to improve the quality of our dental care for your pets. Your pet's dental x-rays are included in the price of our dental procedures.
After reviewing your pet's x-rays we can proceed with scaling the calculus and tartar from your pet's teeth and polishing them; polishing smooths the tooth surface to help prevent future dental disease. If any other issues have been found the doctor will tend to them at this time.
For example, this is when masses are removed or teeth extracted; after recovery your pet will feel so much better! This is the stage of the dental where extra charges may occur.
When we need to do more than clean and polish, there is added time for our technicians and the doctor depending on the severity of the disease they need to treat in your pet's mouth. If there is extensive work to be done, we will call you to let you know what extra charges are being incurred to leave your pet's mouth as disease free as possible. After all, we have gone through great lengths to prepare your pet for anesthesia - it is much more cost effective to do what needs to be done while we have your pet anesthetized.
Two common fees incurred after we have done our initial inspection are:
**Extraction of loose, broken or diseased teeth
**Additional anesthesia time if there are many extractions or an unforeseen mass removal
Once all medical work has been completed, your pet will be removed from general anesthesia and the monitoring technician will see your pet through to recovery. Warm blankets are prepared to help maintain your pet's temperature and comfort, and the technician will remove the endotracheal tube once your pet wakes up. Your pet is recovered in a high traffic recovery area so even after he/she is awake and alert, we can still check in to make sure all is well.
Depending on the severity of the dental disease, your pet may go home with anti-biotics. If this is necessary, the cost of the antibiotics is included in the base price of our dental procedures.
We have worked very diligently to put together a best-practice, high-quality dental procedure with a price that was fair to the practice and to you, the pet owner. We hope this article helps shed some light on the work that is done, the care that is provided, and the technology we've invested in to make sure your pet has the benefit of the best veterinary medicine has to offer.
We thank you so much for choosing us to provide for your pet's dental care!