Dental Procedures

The WCVM Veterinary Medical Centre offers a range of dental services and speciailized procedures for pets. Click on the following tabs for more information about specific dental procedures.

If you would like to book an appointment, please visit Appointments or call the Small Animal Clinic reception desk at 306-966-7126.

Crowns
Crowns

Once a pet's tooth is damaged, it's more likely to have future damage unless it's protected. Depending on the function of the damaged tooth, a crown may be required to ensure protection and function of that tooth.

A crown is a prosthetic device. Dental prosthetics is an area of dentistry that deals with the replacement of natural teeth or associated structures with artificial replacements. Crowns are placed on teeth to provide additional support in order to enhance oral function. Crowns may be used in a number of different cases ranging from fractured teeth with vital pulp to teeth that have had endodontic treatment such as root canals and therefore have a non-vital pulp. A crown is a restorative device that may cover all or part of the clinical crown.

A clinical crown is the portion of the tooth above the gum line. Pulp refers to the blood supply and the nerves inside each tooth.

Q. What does a crown placement involve?

Before any dental work, your pet will be put under general anesthesia. Anesthetic drugs are used because it is less stressful for your pet; he will not experience any discomfort or pain, and it's safer for your pet and the veterinarian.

The anesthetic drugs used at the WCVM Veterinary Medical Centre will be customized to meet the pets' needs. This ensures safety and comfort, and it also aids in a smoother induction and recovery.

As a concern for your pet's safety, a veterinarian will conduct a full physical examination and do pre-surgical blood work on your pet. Pre-surgical blood work is recommended as it may alert the clinical team to whether it's safe to put your pet under the general anesthesia or any precautions we may need to take. It also allows us to customize induction, maintenance and recovery for your pet.

After the decision has been made to have a crown placement, a mold of the teeth involved must be made. A mold is made from an impression of your pet's teeth in a putty-like material (vinyl polysiloxane). Once the mold is taken, it is then sent to a dental laboratory where the crown is fabricated.

Crowns are usually made out of a semi-precious metal as it is very strong and gives the most tissue compatibility. Crowns may also be made from porcelain (a tooth-coloured material), which is like glass and will chip with abuse. After the crown has been fabricated (usually two to three days later), you and your pet will need to visit the veterinary dentist once again to have the crown put on.

During the time between when the mold is taken and when the crown is put on, it's important that you feed your pet soft food and ensure he does not chew on anything hard. This is to ensure that the tooth receiving the crown will not be chipped or changed in any way, which will guarantee that the crown will fit properly and no leakage will result.

If the crown fits properly, the tooth surface is cleaned, etched with a dental solution (to help the fabricated crown adhere to the clinical crown) and rinsed. Next, the tooth is treated with a bonding agent and the crown is cemented into place. The veterinarian will make final adjustments and then polish the new crown.

Incline plane orthodontics

Q. Why does your pet need an orthodontic appliance?

The term orthodontic comes from the Greek words ortho meaning correct or straight and odon meaning tooth. Orthodontics is the area of dentistry that focuses on the alignment of the mature dentition: movement of teeth, relationship of the jaws and teeth and related malformations.

Each orthodontic situation is unique and your pet may require an orthodontic appliance so his jaw or teeth may function normally and pain free. The appliance simply may be to move a tooth so other teeth may grow in properly or so the jaw may open and close properly.

We believe that every animal is entitled to a comfortable bite, not a perfect bite. Unlike human dentistry, installing an incline plane device has moral, ethical and legal ramifications. At the WCVM Veterinary Medical Centre, our clinicians will install an orthodontic appliance if it eases pain or discomfort for your pet, not simply for an award-winning smile. Various dog and cat show regulations state that any animal that has had its heritable anatomy altered is subject to disqualification from the show.

Please do not ask us to be an accomplice to fraud as we will not be a party to deception. Thank you.

Q. What does an orthodontic incline plane or fixed appliance involve?

Before any dental work, your pet will be put under general anesthesia. Anesthetic drugs are used because it is less stressful for your pet. He will not experience any pain or discomfort, and it's safer for both your pet and the veterinarian. The anesthetic drugs used at the Small Animal Clinic are isoflurane and sevoflurane as they have been tested to be two of the safest anesthetic drugs in veterinary medicine.

As a concern for your pet's safety, the veterinarian will conduct a full physical exam and pre-surgical blood work on your pet. Pre-surgical blood work is recommended as it may alert us to whether it's safe to put your pet under general anesthesia or any precautions we may need to take. It also allows us to customize the anesthetic protocol to your pet's needs — allowing for easier, smoother and safer induction, maintenance and recovery for your pet.

Before the appliance can be fitted to your pet's mouth, the teeth must first be cleaned. This is done to eliminate any bacteria that may become trapped beneath the appliance — decreasing the possibility of an infection beginning. Almost all incline plane appliances are made of acrylic or cast metal. Your pet's situation will dictate the size and placement of the appliance.

When acrylic appliances are formed directly in the mouth, the teeth are first etched with a dental solution so the acrylic can bind directly to the teeth. Once the appliance is in place, the veterinarian may then file and smooth the appliance to the desired shape. Incline plane appliances have no active movement device (elastics or wires) but rely on the contact of opposing teeth as well as the muscles of mastication to stimulate tooth movement. The animal controls how much pressure to put on the appliance and chewing does not result in pain.

Orthodontic brackets

Q. Why does your pet require orthodontic brackets?

Orthodontics is the area of dentistry concerned with the alignment of the mature dentition and deals with the movement of the teeth, the relationship of the jaws and teeth and any related malformations. Your pet may require orthodontic brackets to move teeth to their correct position for cosmetic or functional purposes. Orthodontic brackets are comparable to braces for your pet.

We believe that every animal is entitled to a comfortable bite, not a perfect bite. Unlike human dentistry, installing orthodontic brackets has moral, ethical and legal ramifications. At the WCVM Veterinary Medical Centre, clinicians will install orthodontic brackets if it eases pain or discomfort for your pet, not simply for an award-winning smile. Various dog and cat show regulations state that any animal that has had its heritable anatomy altered is subject to disqualification from the show.

Please do not ask us to be an accomplice to fraud as we will not be a party to deception. Thank you.

Q. What do orthodontic brackets involve?

Before any dental work, your pet will be put under general anesthesia. Anesthetic drugs are used because it is less stressful for your pet. He will not experience any discomfort or pain, and it is safer for your pet and the veterinarian. The anesthetic drugs used at the Small Animal Clinic are customized to meet the pets' needs. This ensures safety and comfort, and it also aids in a smoother induction and recovery.

As a concern for your pet's safety, the veterinarian will conduct a full physical exam and pre-surgical blood work on your pet. Pre-surgical blood work is recommended as it may alert us to whether it is safe to put your pet under the general anesthesia or any precautions that we may need to take. It also allows us to customize induction, maintenance and recovery for your pet.

In some cases, an impression of your pet's mouth may be taken in a water and powder mixture called alginate. From this impression, a model of your pet's mouth will be made. This is called a study model, which will allow the veterinarian to try various methods of treatment for your pet's mouth on the model. The clinician may even apply the brackets to the model to see how they will fit before they are cemented to your pet's teeth.

Before brackets can be applied, your pet's teeth must first be cleaned. Once the teeth are cleaned, base plates will be cemented to the teeth. Base plates are generally made from plastics, ceramics or metals and have a mesh imprint on the side facing the tooth for better adherence to the cement. Orthodontic brackets are then attached to the base plates for connecting wires, springs and elastics.

There is a large variety of brackets used such as slotted, cleats, hooks and buttons. Wires, springs and elastics serve as a constant source of force, which rapidly move the teeth in to their new positions. To maintain a continuous force the springs, wires and elastics must be readjusted on a regular basis.

Peridontal treatment

Q. What is periodontal treatment?

Periodontum means around the tooth and refers to the tissues that surround and support the teeth: alveolus (bone), cementum, periodontal ligaments and gingiva (gums).

Periodontology is the study of the supportive structures of the teeth in health and disease. Periodontal disease is a process of stages of progressive attachment loss around the teeth and refers to the inflammation of the gingiva (gingivitis) or periodontum (periodontitis).

Periodontal treatment is done by your veterinarian to help stop and possibly reverse this progressive de-attachment. Periodontal disease is the most common disease in adult cats and dogs.

Q. What does periodontal treatment involve?

Before any dental work is done, your pet will be put under general anesthesia. Anesthetic drugs are used because it's less stressful for your pet. He will not experience any pain or discomfort, and it's safer for your pet and the veterinarian. The anesthetic drugs used at the WCVM Veterinary Medical Centre are customized to meet the pets' needs. This ensures safety and comfort, and it also aids in a smoother induction and recovery.

As a concern for your pet's safety, the veterinarian will conduct a full physical exam and pre-surgical blood work. Pre-surgical blood work is recommended as it may alert us to whether it's safe to put your pet under general anesthesia or any precautions we may need to take. It also allows us to customize the anesthetic protocol to your pet's needs — allowing for easier, smoother and safer induction, maintenance and recovery for your pet.

Periodontal treatment includes a regular dental cleaning (oral hygiene procedure) to remove any plaque or calculus that may be built up on the crown of the tooth (portion of the tooth above the gum line). In serious cases, plaque and calculus may be built up toward the roots of the tooth below the gum line. It's natural to have a short pocket (gingival suculus, an area of non-attachment between a tooth and surrounding gingiva). If plaque and calculus are allowed to build up in this pocket, bacteria will be present as plaque is 80 per cent bacteria.

The bacteria and bacterial byproducts may cause infection and cause more de-attachment forming larger and deeper pockets, which will result in more plaque, calculus and bacteria. If left untreated, it may progress to the point where there may be bone loss, which could result in tooth loss. The bacteria and bacterial byproducts then invade surrounding tissues causing inflammation, abscesses and eventually enter the blood stream. Once into the blood stream, they circulate throughout the body and may affect organs such as the liver, heart and kidneys.

If a pocket is present, the veterinarian may use a special dental tool (a curette) which slides under the gum line to clean and remove any infected tissue, built up plaque or calculus. This is called root planning. In serious cases, the clinician may need to make an incision in the gingival flaps. Gingival flaps allow for better visibility, a more thorough cleaning and cleaning up toward the exposed roots of the tooth.

Additionally, the veterinarian may remove any inflamed, abscessed or infected areas of the gingiva to help speed up recovery. Depending on the size of the flaps, they may be sutured in place. If sutured, absorbable suture material will be used since it's very important not to disrupt the healing of the gingival flaps.

Root canal therapy

Q. Why choose root canal therapy?

Root canal therapy (RCT) is an endodontic procedure. Endodontic is from the Latin words endo meaning inside and odon meaning tooth.

The aim of root canal therapy is to save a tooth that has become exposed, infected or dead, in an attempt to make it functional and pain free. RCT may also be done to prevent an infection from occurring in a damaged tooth. An exposed canal is a source of infection and may spread to the rest of the body through the blood stream. Pulp refers to the blood supply and nerves inside each tooth.

Q. What is root canal therapy (RCT)?

Before any dental work is done, your pet will be put under general anesthesia. Anesthetic drugs are used because it is less stressful for your pet. He will not experience any pain or discomfort, and it's safer for your pet and the veterinarian. The anesthetic drugs used at the Veterinary Medical Centre are customized to the pets' needs. This ensures safety and comfort: it also aids in a smoother induction and recovery.

As a concern for your pet's safety, the veterinarians will conduct a full physical exam and pre-surgical blood work. Pre-surgical blood work is recommended as it may alert us to whether it is safe to put your pet under general anesthesia or any precautions that we may need to take. It also allows us to customize the anesthetic protocol to your pet's needs allowing for easier, smoother and safer induction, maintenance and recovery for your pet.

Root canal therapy involves the cleaning and smoothing out of the inside of the tooth and pulp chamber. Once the pulp is removed, the veterinarian will attempt to clean and shape the tooth's canals to eliminate any source of infection. The canal is dried and then filled with a combination of cement and Gutta Percha (a solid rubber-based material that is inert) in an attempt to completely seal off these canals.

Finally, a filling is placed at the top of the tooth or a metal crown is fabricated. The result is that the tooth has been saved because mechanical function has been maintained, and pain has been eliminated.

Home Care after root canal therapy

If these home care instructions are followed carefully, then your pet should have a speedy and successful recovery.

  • Feed your pet soft food for the first three to five days. If your pet normally eats hard food, simply soak the food in warm water until soft.
  • Do not allow your pet to chew anything hard for the first three to five days. For example Gumabones™, hard toys, etc.
  • Keep your pet quiet for the next three days — no jumping, running or roughhousing. Why? Because when an animal becomes excited, his blood pressure rises, and this will increase the pressure on the canal that is already under pressure from being filled. This may cause throbbing and discomfort for your pet.
  • Give all medications according to their labels and any oral instructions you have received.
  • If your pet has been given an Elizabethan collar, leave the collar on at all times except when feeding or when you are keeping a watchful eye on your pet.
  • Come back in approximately 10 days for your pet's dental recheck so the veterinarian can re-evaluate your pet's mouth and ensure that all has healed well. Additionally, we will go over long-term oral care and create a customized home care regime that meets the needs of you and your pet.
Tooth extractions

Our motto at the WCVM Veterinary Medical Centre is "a full set is better than no set." Generally, we try to avoid extracting teeth and extraction is used as a last resort. We believe that teeth fulfil a number of important functions for your pet ranging from eating to self-defense.

Teeth may be extracted for a number of reasons:

  • The tooth is not salvageable. For example, roots have been reabsorbed or the tooth has been fractured down the centre.
  • The tooth has a dental cavity in an unusual place that will constantly need refilling.
  • The tooth is interfering with the development of other teeth. For example, there is a retained deciduous tooth (baby tooth).
  • The tooth is a supernumerary tooth (extra tooth).
  • Some animals have teeth extracted simply because cost is a factor — negating other more advanced procedures to save the tooth and make it pain free.

Q. What does a tooth extraction involve?

Before any dental work is done, your pet will be put under general anesthesia. Anesthetic drugs are used because it is less stressful for your pet. He will not experience any pain or discomfort, and it's safer for your pet and the veterinarian. The anesthetic drugs used at the WCVM Veterinary Medical Centre will be customized to meet the pet's needs. This ensures safety and comfort, and it also aids in a smoother induction and recovery.

As a concern for your pet's safety, the veterinarian will conduct a full physical exam and pre-surgical blood work on your pet. Pre- surgical blood work is recommended as it may alert us to whether it is safe to put your pet under general anesthesia or if we need to take any precautions. It also allows us to customize the anesthetic protocol to your pet's needs — allowing for easier, smoother and safer induction, maintenance and recovery for your pet.

To start the procedure, the veterinarian will loosen the connective tissue surrounding the tooth. The tooth will then be extracted using special dental equipment. On multi-rooted teeth such as some molars and premolars, the tooth may be segmented with a fine dental drill to avoid damage to surrounding teeth and to ease the extraction. Gingival flaps (gums that surround the tooth) may also be created to aid in the extraction, making the procedure less traumatic and painful. As well, this will promote fast healing.

Once the tooth has been removed, the socket is cleaned. In some cases, it will be packed down with material that will enhance bone growth. The opening may then be sutured using re-absorbable (dissolving) suture material. Some openings may be left open if the gingiva is infected or inflamed.