What Is A Board Certified Specialist in Veterinary Dentistry?
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:
- Restorative dentistry
- Oral surgery
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.
Why Does My Pet Need A Veterinary Dentist?
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.
Will My Regular Veterinarian Still Be Involved?
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.
Signs That A Pet May Need Dental Care:
- Bad breath
- Drooling or excessive salivation
- Pawing at the teeth or mouth
- Discoloration or staining of the teeth
- Visible tartar on the teeth
- Red, irritated, swollen, or bleeding gums
- Loose or missing teeth
- Difficulty eating
- Discharge from the nose
- Swelling under the eyes
- Weight loss or loss of appetite
- Lethargy and loss of vitality
Did You Know?
- Dogs have 42 permanent teeth while cats have 30.
- Symptoms of gum disease in dogs and cats include yellow and brown tartar buildup along the gum line, inflamed gums, and bad breath.
- Smaller breeds of dogs seem to be particularly bothered by dental disease.
- Dental problems are a common cause of weight loss and loss of appetite in older cats.
- Braces are available for pets with bite abnormalities that need correction.