William R. Pritchard Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does it take to get an appointment with the Dentistry and Oral Surgery Service?
Our service receives both primary care and referral patients by appointment on Monday and Wednesday every week. The timing of the appointment will depend on the nature of the disease. If you are concerned that your pet requires attention prior to the first available appointment, please call (530) 752-2470 to discuss this with the service Coordinator or a clinician. Emergency cases are also seen after hours and over weekends.

Do I have to have a referral from a private practice veterinarian in order to be able to make an appointment with the Dentistry and Oral Surgery Service?
No, the Dentistry and Oral Surgery Service provides primary care as well as care on a referral basis.

How long will the receiving appointment take?
The appointment will take 30 - 60 minutes.

When will the dental procedure be done?
The procedure will be done the following day (on Tuesday following a Monday appointment, and on Thursday or Friday following a Wednesday appointment) .

Why does my pet have to stay overnight?
In order to make sure your pet is healthy enough to undergo anesthesia, the Anesthesia Service requires you to leave your pet overnight. This allows us and them to examine your pet thoroughly for any signs of disease, go over laboratory findings, and design an anesthetic protocol that is right for your pet. It also keeps your pet from getting fed accidentally before the procedure.

When can my pet go home?
Discharge is usually between 5:00 PM and 7:00 PM the day of the procedure. Some patients may benefit from staying an extra night.

How often will I speak to someone at the hospital if my pet is hospitalized?
Every day, the clinician or the student working closely with your pet will contact you to give you an update on your pet's progress.

How risky is anesthesia?
Anesthesia is much safer than it has been in the past. Although there are always some risk involved when undergoing anesthesia, UC Davis has one of, if not the, best Anesthesia Service in the world. Your pet will have an anesthetic protocol tailored to his needs, as well as a dedicated anesthetist monitoring him during the entire procedure. There have been very few anesthetic-related deaths.

My dog has just fractured one of his big teeth, what should I do?
There is a window of up to 48 hours from fracture occurrence in which a veterinary dentist could intervene and by performing a procedure named partial coronal pulpectomy (or vital pulp therapy) save the tooth vitality (with about 80% success rate). So for saving the vitality of the tooth, professional intervention is essential up to 48 hours from fracture. If more than 48 hours have passed since the fracture occurred a root canal treatment can be performed.

I have heard that a broken tooth is fine, and we can just watch it. Why do you want to treat it?
Fractured teeth with pulp exposure are at high risk of developing other complications. Initially, the tooth is very painful as the pulp is made up of nerves and blood vessels that are exposed to the air. After the pulp dies, your pet will likely experience a dull ache associated with that part of the mouth. Over time, the dead pulp becomes infected, and a tooth root abscess may develop. Tooth root abscesses are painful and can have effects on your pet's general health. Taking care of this tooth before it develops is kinder to your pet than simply waiting for a problem to develop.

Why can't I take my pet to the groomer to have his teeth cleaned? The groomer doesn't use anesthesia, so it's safer.
It is illegal to perform awake dental cleanings in California. Additionally, it is impossible to do a thorough cleaning with your pet awake. Your groomer may be able to remove the obvious superficial calculus from your pet's teeth, but he/she cannot get under the gums, where the cleaning is needed. We have seen many pets with 'clean' teeth that need to have many extractions because the underlying periodontal disease was not fully addressed.

My animal is being aggressive to people and/or other animals. Would extraction or 'clipping' of the teeth help?
Aggressiveness is a behavioral problem and therefore must be diagnosed and treated as such. Removing or amputating the teeth will only give the false impression that the animal is no longer a threat. The American Veterinary Medical Association has ruled that this type of procedure is inappropriate.

How will my animal eat if most or all of the teeth are extracted during dental treatment?
Dogs and cats that have no teeth at all are still able to eat regular food, including dry kibble, as long as its size is not too big according to the size of the animal.

Can dental disease affect my pet's general health?
The most common dental disease in dogs and cats is periodontal disease, which is a gradual but progressive loss of the supportive structure of the teeth caused by the oral bacteria accumulating in the plaque and calculus. The discomfort and pain could cause the pet to change its eating patterns, loose weight, and be less active. The bacteria accumulated in the plaque and calculus may reach the blood-stream causing inflammation and thus compromising other internal organs such as kidneys and liver. In animals with endocrine diseases such as diabetes, the presence of periodontal disease could be the cause for the animal not to respond to the prescribed treatment.

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