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Q: There has been some discussion at my hospital regarding the use of fluoride. We used to apply it to feline patients after a cleaning or to canine patients only if they had an enamel defect or attrition. One of the technicians says we should be applying it to both canine and feline patients across the board. What is the current protocol for fluoride applications?
Dana Grab, CVT
A. There is no official protocol guiding us on the use of fluoride in small animals, but I am happy to share my perspective on the matter.
Fluoride plays a minor role in our efforts to combat periodontal disease in dogs and cats. The use of fluoride in human dentistry is widespread, and that is primarily because of its ability to prevent caries (bacterial decay). Since caries are extremely rare in dogs and cats, we must consider the other benefits of fluoride.
Fluoride is used as an anti-plaque agent and can also act to desensitize exposed dentin. Many veterinarians also appreciate the pleasant odor, and clients associate a fluoride application with the kind of high-quality dentistry they would expect from their human dentist.
As long as the excess fluoride is wiped away from the oral cavity, I see nothing wrong with making a fluoride application a standard procedure for dogs and cats after dental prophylaxis, and in fact this is what I do in my practice.
Daniel T. Carmichael, DVM, DAVDC
Veterinary Medical Center
75 Sunrise Highway
West Islip, NY 11795
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