Russell Vale Animal Clinic

17 Bellambi Lane
Bellambi, NS 2518


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Dental/Oral Care with Dr Liz

We often get people calling up for a "quote for a grade 2 dental" - these people have been to ABC veterinary centre, and were told that their pet needs a "dental". After they are over the shock, we (like other vet hospitals) then get a phone call with people looking elsewhere.

As we DON"T do "dentals", but DO perform complete oral cavity examinations, assessment, and treatment, the service we provide is a lot more comprehensive.

As we don't just look on the brown stuff on the tooth surface, and as we know that white clean teeth can have significant disease (see photos below),  we can't help you if you just want a "dental quote".

BUT, we can help you help your pet better.

As quotes on dentistry are not easy to give as your pet has 42 teeth (if a dog) or 30 (if a cat), and we need to probe, examine, assess, radiograph each tooth to determine if any disease is present, we hate giving a price, and then finding out that there was much more disease in the mouth than was previously thought, and as such is going to be higher than the quote given! -  But, we all want a guide on what to expect, so we ask that you can bring your pet in for us to perform a conscious dental check, so we can go through what may need to be done, and give you an upfront list of prices  - that we can do. 

When you then sit down and compare quotes, compare apples to apples - which -  unfortunately,  is impossible to do in the Illawarra as some veterinary hospitals are unable to do on site pre - anaesthetic blood testing, and only a few have similar anaesthetic monitoring equipment (Surgivet Advisor).  Do not let our small size fool you - we choose to be small so we can provide individualised care to our patients.  But other than that, what else do we do that makes us stand out from the crowd?

1. Dental Checks (i.e full conscious Oral Cavity Examinations) of all of our registered pets at least twice a year (for FREE) which includes brushing of your pet's teeth (if they allow it), and useful information on how to keep your pet's mouth healthy. Dental Health Month Wollongong Russell Vale vet

Dental xrays dog cat dental 2. Digital intra oral dental radiographs, as well as diagnostic (i.e useful) interpretation of these films (and if there are questions on the pathology seen, I consult with veterinary dentists within Australia as well as worldwide through VIN).  We were the first (in 2005) to start dental radiographs, progressing to digital films in 2009.

3. Complete and Comprehensive Oral Health Assessment and Treatment under General Anaesthesia (COHAT) which is the worldwide GOLD standard of veterinary dental work. (this incorporates the Australian Veterinary Dental Society Guidelines on Dental Care). Not your average "dental".

4. Our knowledge that nice clean teeth may have disease, and teeth with lots of tartar may be perfectly healthy underneath.

Anyway, let's start at the beginning -  Not sure what your pet's dental grade is?  Neither do we until your pet is examined under a General Anaesthetic. However, a rough guide can be determined during a conscious oral examination. That is why we would like to see your pet first.

We perform dentistry procedures not only to prevent, but to treat existing mouth disease. This can only be done through a thorough, logical and consistent approach from all carers of your pet.

At a minimum:

1. On admission into hospital, your pet receives a full examination, and then a calming sedative.  If blood tests are ordered, they will be performed before your pet's sedation. Blood tests help us plan for a safer anesthetic.   The pre-anesthetic blood profile - we analyze six biochemical enzymes (ALP, ALT (liver), urea, creatinine (kidney/muscle), glucose, TP (protein = hydration), and PCV (blood count).

2. Your pet's mouth is fully examined under anesthetic. A plaque test is done, and your pet's mouth is "dental charted".  Any other medication, such as pain relief or antibiotics are also given at this time.

3. An assessment is made of your pets mouth, and if further work is required, you will be contacted.

4. A combination of hand scaling and ultrasonic scaling ensures complete removal of any plaque (the dangerous stuff that we can't see), and the tartar (the brown yucky stuff we can see) from the crown and the subgingival area.

5. A thorough but gentle polish of the teeth, then a fluoride treatment to harden the enamel.  Finally, a light antiseptic wash for the gums, and we are done.

6. During all of this, your pet's anesthetic is monitored through our veterinary nurse, and our Surgivet Advisor monitor. Your pet's temperature is maintained with our gentle air body  heating (no heat pads which  may burn your pet).

7. Your pet is monitored during their recovery period, home instructions are personalised for your pet, and a "home pack" of home care is created personally for your pet.

You will go home with a dental chart, photographs (if taken) and detailed home instruction notes.  You will be scheduled for a 4 day recheck, and then each three to six months  as needed for their complimentary oral cavity examination and check up. 


Our goal is to slow down (and stop if possible) dental disease, and this can only be done through continual attention at your end, and ongoing assessments at ours. 


In many cases, we need to do dental x-rays (same as your dentist would do for you), to assess what is happening underneath the gum line.  We include it as a standard in our Grade 2 dental disease cases.

The options to ensure a healthy mouth and pain free mouth are now broadened. Many teeth can be saved through advanced periodontal techniques and good home care.  Some teeth just cannot be saved, and extractions are needed.  However, extractions (or any other oral surgery), are only done with your permission. Our extraction techniques are designed to minimise soft tissue trauma, reduce complications and ensure that the entire tooth comes out (no roots left behind).

But our dental care services are not just limited to cleaning.  If your pet has missing or extra teeth, pristine white teeth but with a smell, or if your pet is a cat (as they get resorptive lesions) or anything else unusual in the mouth, then your pet needs a full mouth examination under anesthetic, including full mouth radiographs. 

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 When you ask your vet about dental care or about getting your pet's teeth cleaned under anesthesia, why not ask the following questions? 

  • Who is actually going to do the procedure on my pet? If extractions are needed, who will do this?
  • What are their qualifications?
  • Will you probe and chart each and every tooth?
  • Will you take dental radiographs of any areas that need it?


At Russell Vale vets, the answers to these questions are = 

I, Dr Liz, perform every dental procedure, including extractions (oral surgery). 

Dental charting is done every time, and dental radiographs are vital to check the health of your pet's mouth.

My qualifications are that I am a Registered veterinarian operating out of a licensed veterinary hospital with the Veterinary Practitioner's Board of NSW.

I am a Chartered Member of the Australian Veterinary Association, and my hospital is a Certified and Accredited Practice with the AVA.

I am a current member of the American Veterinary Dental Society.

I have attended many basic and advanced post graduate "wet labs' in veterinary dentistry, and have over 20 years experience in veterinary dentistry.

In December 2008, we had our dentistry skills assessed, and we are pleased to have been told that "the level of dental care you are providing your patients is significantly above average for general practice in Australia, especially as you have embraced dental radiology which I believe is the single most under-utilised diagnostic tool in veterinary dental practice" Dr Christine Hawke -  Sydney Pet Dentistry.

In cases which are challenging, I do not hesitate to confer with veterinary dentists either locally (such as Sydney Pet Dentistry at the Animal Referral Hospital), or overseas (through my affiliation with Veterinary Information Network (VIN).

Now, what dental grade is your pet? And, what are you going to do about it?


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Dr Liz

Phone 02 42 845 988