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At A Glance Summary

  • Veterinary medical dental care is an essential component of a preventive health care plan.
  • It is imperative that the dental health care team remains current in regard to oral care, operative procedures, materials, equipment and products. Team members must obtain appropriate dental continuing education.
  • Dental procedures must be performed by a licensed veterinarian, a credentialed veterinary technician or a trained veterinary assistant under the supervision of a veterinarian in accordance with state or provincial practice acts.
  • General anesthesia with intubation is necessary to properly assess and treat the companion animal dental patient. Cleaning without general anesthesia is considered unacceptable and below the standard of care.
  • If left untreated, diseases of the oral cavity are painful and can contribute to other local or systemic diseases.
  • Dental procedures result in aerosolized bacteria and particulate matter. A dedicated dental space is recommended for nonsterile dental procedures. This dedicated space should be in a low-traffic area away from the sterile surgical suite.
  • The safety of staff members performing dental procedures must be ensured by using oral, respiratory, skin, eye and ear protective devices to protect against pathogens and debris that are aerosolized during the procedure, along with appropriate measures of protection against radiation.
  • Irrigating the oral cavity with a 0.12% chlorhexidine solution before dental scaling decreases bacterial aerosolization.
  • Instruments and dental equipment require routine and frequent maintenance. Instruments must be sharp and properly stored. A written protocol needs to be established for equipment and instrument care.
  • An oral exam performed on a conscious patient allows the practitioner to design a preliminary diagnostic plan. It is only when the patient has been anesthetized that a complete and thorough evaluation can be accomplished, including tooth-by-tooth visual exam, probing and radiographic exam. Protocols should be in place to give clients ample time to make an informed decision about the proposed treatment plan.
  • The findings of each tooth-by-tooth examination and the surrounding tissues need to be recorded.
  • Full-mouth dental radiology is needed to evaluate each tooth, along with the jaw. After a specific procedure has been performed, such as extractions, postoperative X-rays are necessary to ensure success.
  • Prevention of hypothermia with warming devices is essential because the patient may become wet and dental procedures can be lengthy.
  • A diagnostic test strip for the measurement of dissolved thiol levels can be used as an exam-room indicator of gingival health and periodontal status.
  • Home oral hygiene is vital for disease control. Counsel clients on all available options, including brushing, rinsing, applying sealants, and the use of diets and dental chews. Keep in mind that what works for one client and his or her dog may not work for another client and his or her cat.
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