Editors' Guest: Prophy on!


Editors' Guest: Prophy on!

Feb 01, 2005

Dr. Philip VanVranken looks on as Peggy Heersema, lvt, performs a dental prophylaxis on a patient.
As many of you are aware, February is national pet dental health month. In the past few years, many of us have ratcheted up our dental care skills, yet I often feel we still don't always do all the dental procedures our patients need.

See if this sounds familiar: One morning you enter the exam room to see Bandit, a 15-year-old poodle, for his annual examination. Your olfactory senses tell you that either Bandit or his owner is in need of urgent dental care. A quick examination shows you that although rotten is not a professional term, it probably most aptly describes Bandit's mouth. A review of Bandit's records shows that the owner has repeatedly refused dental care because of anesthetic concerns. I recently asked our technicians exactly how many anesthetic deaths during dental procedures had occurred in the last 10 years. The response was unanimous: occasionally some exciting times, but not one death. Imagine going to your own dentist and finding out that, at the age of 68, your dentist thought you were too old for nitrous oxide and Novocain to repair that gigantic slab fracture in your premolar.

I think all of us (ourselves and our patients) should be allowed to expire from natural causes with pain-free oral cavities. The bottom line is this: Appropriate dental care for our patients, regardless of their age, does as much as anything to enrich their lives.

As a profession, we are very aware of pain and the need to control it, especially with conditions of an arthritic or surgical nature. However, we sometimes overlook one of the most painful conditions—dental disease. So, for the rest of 2005, let us act as our patients' advocates for great dental care.

Prophy on!

Philip VanVranken, DVM, is a Veterinary Medicine Practitioner Advisory Board Member from Dickman Road Veterinary Clinic in Battle Creek, Mich.