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Client Education and Follow-up

Postoperative Communication
Client communication is fundamental to the maintenance of oral health. At the time of discharge, discuss all operative procedures and existing/potential complications (e.g., sedation, vocalization, bleeding, coughing, dehiscence, infection, neurologic signs, halitosis, vomiting, diarrhea, anorexia, signs of pain). Discuss immediate postoperative home oral hygiene, including medications and their side effects. Provide antibiotics and medication for inflammation and pain as indicated.41,42 Discuss any change in diet that might be necessary, such as a change to either soft or premoistened food or to a prescription dental diet. Also indicate the duration of those changes. Provide individualized oral and written instructions at the time of discharge. Establish an appointment for a follow-up examination and further discussion.

Home Oral Hygiene

Home oral hygiene is vital for disease control. Telephone the client the day after the procedure to inquire about the pet’s condition, to determine the client’s ability to implement the medication and home oral hygiene plan, to answer questions, and address any concerns the client might have. The home oral hygiene plan includes the frequency, duration, and method of rinsing and brushing; applying sealants; and the use of dental diets and dental chews.45 The Veterinary Oral Health Council has a list of products that are reportedly effective in retarding the accumulation of dental plaque and/or calculus.46 Some of the details regarding the home oral hygiene plan might best be left for discussion with the client at the first postoperative follow-up evaluation.
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