Practical knowledge of veterinary dental anatomy and physiology is essential to the veterinarian and veterinary technician involved in providing quality oral care to their patients. Quality surgical skills are only attainable with a thorough understanding of these concepts.
The primary objective of veterinary orthodontics is to provide a comfortable bite for companion animals. Cosmetics are often improved, however orthodontic care is never provided for deceptive purposes. Our ethical priority is to provide genetic counseling to avoid future problems associated with malocclusions. Traumatic malocclusions are painful for pets and painfully expensive for owners.
There is no universally accepted definition of old age and as we are all aware, some people and animals age better than others. Because of advances in veterinary medicine, the average lifespan of cats and dogs has increased and according to recent AVMA statistics, about 30 percent of the owned pet population in the United States is considered geriatric (Wise et al, 2002). As senior care becomes a significant component of companion animal practice, we must be aware of the special anesthetic requirements of this population.
Feline gingivostomatitis is probably the most frustrating oral disease seen in veterinary practice. Cats with this chronic, painful inflammatory disease can be severely compromised, and medical treatment can cause adverse effects.
A disturbing e-mail arrived the other day: Hello, Dr. Bellows: I have a 5-year-old yellow Labrador Retriever that I have routinely cleaned her teeth (with enzyme toothpaste and a brush, recently using Sonicare). Despite all best efforts, she is building up tartar and I think may have a dark spot (cavity on a rear molar).
In May, I explained how to perform a nonsurgical extraction on single-rooted teeth including the incisors, first premolars, deciduous canines, and mandibular third molars. A surgical approach is indicated to extract canines, certain large incisors, and multirooted teeth and to retrieve root tips.
Proper professional dental prophylaxis is a must for every small animal practice. Prevention of periodontal disease can be accomplished only through regular professional care under general anesthesia. The following discussion details the essential steps in providing a thorough dental prophylaxis for our patients.
Intraoral radiographs are essential to perform quality dental therapy. Teeth can be cleaned and polished without seeing radiographic images below the gingiva, but "dentistry" cannot be performed properly.
A dental extraction should be considered an end-stage procedure. When teeth are salvageable, we can go to great lengths to avoid extraction. Unfortunately, in many cases extraction is advisable and necessary.