One of my favorite parts of being a veterinarian is that I’m always challenged to learn and improve as a doctor. Nothing is better than going to continuing education to learn about the current diagnostic and therapeutic trends. When I come back from a meeting, I’m always so excited to put what I learned into practice. So this month, I’m going to share some information I learned, and because February is pet dental month, let's talk about dentistry.
Pet dentistry isn’t new, but it is often overlooked. Over 50% of all pets have dental disease. However, many pets do not receive the care they need. The relationship between healthy teeth and the length and quality of life of our pets cannot be understated. A major cause of pets acting “old” is dental disease. I’ve had so many people tell me that after their pet’s dental disease was managed, that pet acted much younger.
If you’ve ever had a cavity or broken tooth, you know how painful it is. Pets are programmed to hide pain and they learn to live with the pain. It is not okay to “watch” a pet’s broken tooth. Would you ”watch” your own broken tooth? This doesn’t just apply to adult animals if a puppy or kitten breaks a baby tooth; it causes pain and can damage the permanent tooth if left in the mouth after breaking. So even though it isn’t a permanent tooth, it needs to be extracted if it breaks.
Although anesthesia is a major concern for many clients, veterinary dental specialists all agree that it is necessary for thorough evaluation and treatment of dental disease. The American Veterinary Dental College has even gone as far as to make an official statement against “Anesthesia Free Cleaning.” Current anesthetic protocols are much safer than just a few years ago. Choosing anesthetics based on each pet’s health, closely monitoring the pet during and after anesthesia and providing fluid and heat support are important factors to make anesthesia as safe as possible.
Veterinary dental specialists are adamant that the ability to take dental x-rays is absolutely necessary to evaluate the health of pets’ teeth. Up to 30% of pets with routine dental radiographs have abnormalities. A recent study showed that 50% of pets that had extractions done had a piece of root left behind when an x-ray wasn’t taken after extracting the tooth. Remaining tooth roots cause pain and bone infection. We have digital dental radiography and it makes a world of difference in the level of care we can give.
I cannot talk about dentistry without mentioning the economics of dental care for pets. I will admit, dentistry can be very expensive, especially when we are doing “fire engine” dentistry, treating a pet with a serious dental disease requiring extensive dental surgery, oral x-rays and therapeutics. Another topic that was widely discussed at the meeting was offering wellness plans. These plans are a way to offer clients the best level of care for their pets at reduced pricing and offering monthly payments. We have started offering wellness plans and have a plan that includes dentistry, which so far has been very popular.
If you want to learn more about the dental procedure, visit our Facebook page, we have an album that shows the step-by-step process from admission to follow up the appointment.
I learned so much more and future articles are going to be related to other great information I learned, so stay tuned. As usual, if you have any questions, feel free to contact me at [email protected], go to our website, wildernessvet.com or follow us on Facebook.