Updated 2019 AAHA Dental Care Guidelines available now; include exclusive new resources

The world of veterinary dentistry is complex and ever changing. To help you navigate it, AHHA has just released an update to the 2013 AAHA Dental Care Guidelines for Dogs and Cats.

Created with the goals of decreasing oral pain and improving the quality of life for companion animals, the 2019 AAHA Dental Care Guidelines for Dogs and Cats help veterinary practitioners expand upon their current client education efforts, so pet owners can better understand that periodontal disease can be prevented through regular dental examinations and proper home care, and that, if left untreated, periodontal disease can lead to chronic pain and suffering.

What’s changed in six years? A lot! The updated guidelines include exciting new resources, including:

  • A photographically illustrated 12-step protocol that describes the essential steps in assessing oral health, cleaning the teeth, and performing periodontal therapy.
  • Recommendations for general anesthesia, pain management, facilities, and equipment necessary for safe and effective delivery of care.
  • A strong emphasis on the critical role of client education and effective, preventive oral healthcare.
  • Beautifully designed handouts for veterinary teams to share information on why nonanesthetic dentistry is not considered appropriate, how to choose appropriate chew toys, and how to avoid anesthetic accidents.
  • Convenient links to myriad AAHA Press products that support dental health.

The overarching theme to these updated Dental Care Guidelines is to prevent, identify, and treat the often unidentified pain, infection, and inflammation in pets with dental disease. This pain affects an animal’s quality of life as well as the integrity of the human-animal bond.

The guidelines will help the veterinary healthcare team effectively address the fear of anesthesia—the most commonly cited reason pet owners forego proper dental procedures—and convey the risks associated with nonanesthetic dentistry to clients.

“Regular dental care is one of the most powerful ways we can improve the quality of life of our patients,” said AAHA Chief Executive Officer Michael Cavanaugh, DVM, DABVP (Emeritus). “AAHA continues to support the use of general anesthesia in dental procedures to promote appropriate diagnostic capabilities and decrease patient stress, injury, and risk of aspiration. Because home care is crucial in the support of a healthy, pain-free mouth, client communication and education remain central to these guidelines.”

That’s why the updated guidelines revisit anesthetic and analgesic strategies: so that practitioners can administer sedation for select purposes and local and general anesthesia as safely as possible; provide essential steps before, during, and after dental procedures; provide information about the science behind Veterinary Oral Health Council–approved dental care products; and more.

AAHA guidelines review the latest information to help veterinary teams address central issues and perform essential tasks to improve the health of their patients.

The 2019 AAHA Dental Care Guidelines for Dogs and Cats were supported by generous educational grants from Boehringer Ingelheim Animal Health USA Inc., Hill’s Pet Nutrition, Inc., and Midmark. The guidelines appear in the March/April issue of Journal of the American Animal Hospital Association and at aaha.org/dentistry.