While your general practitioner veterinarian can perform routine teeth cleanings and dental examinations, certain problems require the care of a doctor who has had specialized training in veterinary dentistry in order to provide the very best outcome for your pet. Your veterinary dental specialist will work closely with your general practitioner veterinarian to resolve your pet's dental problem.
A board certified specialist in veterinary dentistry, also known as a veterinary dentist, is a licensed veterinarian who has obtained intensive, additional training in the following areas:
Just as your own primary care physician may feel the need to refer you to the care of a specialist from time to time, your general practitioner veterinarian may feel your pet needs the additional expertise of a board certified dentist for certain conditions, such as root canal or oral surgery. In addition, board-certified veterinary dentists also often have access to specialized diagnostic or treatment equipment that can enhance the outcome of your pet's case, as well as specialized knowledge about the most appropriate pain control and medication options needed to treat your pet's dental problem.It is very important to remember that dental disease is the most common problem to affect small animals of any age. In fact, veterinary experts estimate that up to 80% of dogs and 70% of cats that do not receive proper dental care will develop signs of dental disease by the age of three. For these reasons, it is very important that your pet receives regular dental care and cleanings from your general practitioner veterinarian and, when required, more advanced care from a veterinary dental specialist. (Note: Some veterinarians routinely refer all clients to a dental specialist for that aspect of a pet's health care.)You can be assured that a veterinarian who knows when to refer you and your pet to a veterinary dentist or other specialist is one that is caring and committed to ensuring that your pet receives the highest standard of care for his or her problem.What Kinds of Problems Require the Expertise of a Veterinary Dentist? Board certified veterinary dentists can perform all routine veterinary care, such as routine dental examinations and cleanings. They are specially trained, however, to handle more complicated problems such as oral surgery, endodontics (fracture repair, root canal), extraction, prosthodontic implants, and orthodontics (yes, pets can wear braces, too!). Oral masses or lesions should also be examined by a veterinary dentist.
Your regular veterinarian will still supervise your pet's overall veterinary care, and will consult with the veterinary dentist regarding any pre or post treatment care. In general, the veterinary dentist treats the problem and reports findings and recommendations back to your general practitioner veterinarian. In some practices, only non-routine or complicated cases are referred to the dental specialist; in other practices, all dental care is referred to the specialist.