2851 W. IRVING PARK RD  CHICAGO, ILLINOIS  60618     PHONE  (773) 539-9080   FAX  (773) 478-0605

A Guide to Comparing Veterinary Dental Services

What should you ask about?

Why is it important to ask the right questions?

Untreated or ineffectively treated dental disease can rob your pet of literally years of quality life. That’s why it is so important that your pet receive regular, high quality dental care.

If you want the kind of dental care for your feline companion that you want for yourself or another family member, you need to investigate the quality of care you are being offered by any veterinarian. Unfortunately, similar sounding procedures are frequently not the same at different veterinary hospitals.

To get high quality care, you need to choose a hospital with high standards. When asking about any service, please inquire as to what is included in the procedure that you are interested in. Also inquire about who exactly is performing the procedure, what their training level is, and what kind of anesthetic monitoring is used. A good clinic should be happy to talk to you about all of these factors. They should also be willing to give you a tour of their facilities.

Once you have all the appropriate information, you can make and informed choice as to what level of health care you would like for your cat.

Pre-anesthetic blood testing: This is done to make sure that your cat’s internal organs such as the kidneys and liver are functioning correctly.

Pre-operative pain medications: Studies have shown that pain medication given before a procedure is much more effective in preventing pain than pain medication given during or after the procedure.

General anesthesia: Dental procedures such as cleaning, polishing and more intensive dental work must be done under general anesthesia. This sort of dental work is ineffective and can be dangerous if done without anesthesia.

Anesthetic monitoring: EKG, blood oxygen level, heart rate, respiratory rate, body temperature, and blood pressure are all very important since they can point to early signs of anesthetic problems when those problems can still be addressed. All vital parameters are monitored and documented every five minutes, or more often as needed.

Dedicated anesthetist: It is vitally important for your cat’s safety that there be someone present during the procedure whose only task is to monitor your cat. Would you be comfortable going under anesthesia if the only person in the room with you was the person performing the procedure?

IV catheter and fluids: An IV catheter allows instant access to the circulatory system if any emergency drugs need to be given. IV fluids are used to keep blood pressure in a safe range and help preserve kidney function during anesthesia.

Dental x-rays: Less than 50% of all dental problems in cats can be identified without dental x-rays. This means that anyone doing dentistry without routinely using dental x-rays is missing more problems than he/she is finding! Dental x-rays are also necessary to be sure that no tooth root fragments have been left behind after a tooth is extracted. The American Hospital Association Dental Care Guidelines require the regular use of dental x-rays taken by a dental x-ray unit when performing dental procedures on cats. Use of digitized dental radiography offers the advantage of speed, image manipulation for best interpretation, and the ability to email the image to a board-certified veterinary dentist for a second opinion if needed.

Dental charting: This allows us to track changes in each individual tooth’s health so that we can take action before there is irreversible disease.

Nerve blocks for extractions: Just as your dentist uses novocaine prior to working on one of your teeth, we use the same drugs to reduce the pain your cat experiences from tooth extraction, periodontal work, and any other dental procedure.

Post-surgical pain medications: As anyone who has had a wisdom tooth removed knows, it takes several days after an extraction for the pain to go away. That is why your cat should have pain medication for at least a few days after his /her extraction.

Detailed written aftercare instructions: You should always receive written instructions after your cat’s procedure so that you know how to care for him/her, know what is normal after anesthesia, and know who to call if you think there is a problem.

No charge progress examination: To be sure that everything is going well, all our dental patients receive a 2-week progress exam at no charge. At this appointment, we cover home dental care and discuss any further dental work that was recommended by the doctor.

Checklist of what to ask

In order to help you make an informed decision, we have created a chart that details what our dental procedures involve. This chart can be used to better compare our procedures with those of other facilities.

Dental Procedure Comparisons Cat Hospital of Chicago Other Clinic
Pre-anesthetic blood testing X ?
Food allowed up to 6AM day of surgery X ?
Staggered AM drop-off times if requested to help minimize the length of your cat's hospital stay X ?
Pre-operative sedatives X ?
Pre-operative pain medication X ?
General anesthesia X ?
Anesthetic monitoring capabilities: X ?
Bair hugger/warming blanket
X ?
Blood pressure
X ?
Body temperature
X ?
X ?
X ?
Pulse Oximeter
X ?
Dedicated anesthetist X ?
IV catheter and fluids X ?
Digital dental x-ray unit X ?
Dental charting X ?
Nerve blocks for extractions X ?
Post-surgical pain medications X ?
Staff member holds patient as they wake up X ?
Heated recovery cages X ?
Food offered post-operatively X ?
Go home same day X ?
Detailed written aftercare instructions X ?
No charge follow-up progress evaluation X ?

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