Periodontal disease is the number one medical condition in small animal veterinary medicine, states Dr.Niemiec, a board certified veterinary dentist.(4) That means it is very likely to see these cases in your daily life as a veterinary technician.
So, what do you need to know about periodontal disease so you can properly inform owners about home dental care?
Continue reading to get the facts!
1: The Value of Home Dental Care
Prevention is key to reduce periodontal disease, which is started by plaque accumulation. Home dental care is a great method of prevention for a number of reasons.
The American Veterinary Dental College explains:
“All methods of home oral hygiene share the goal of prevention of controlling periodontal disease” by minimizing plaque (bacterial film) accumulation, and preventing the mineralization of the plaque to form calculus (“tartar”).” (3)
2: Know the Lingo!
- Gingivitis = Gum disease or inflammation of the gingiva
- Periodontitis = Inflammation of the structures (bone and soft tissues) surrounding and supporting the teeth
- Periodontal disease = Includes gingivitis and periodontitis
- Plaque = A biofilm that contains bacteria
- Calculus or Tartar = Plaque that has become hardened by the minerals (such as calcium salts) in saliva
3: When to Start and how often to Perform Home Dental Care
It is recommended to get pets (cats included!) used to the idea of home dental care at a young age. The gold standard is daily tooth brushing with veterinary approved products. It may take some time to get pets used to the idea of brushing so starting early can be beneficial to help familiarize and desensitize them. In the clinic, you can use dental models to demonstrate the approach to get your clients comfortable with the idea of tooth brushing.
If brushing is not accepted by the pet (or if your client will not be compliant) the next best option is to encourage daily chewing activities with VOHC recommended products.
4: What is VOHC?
The American Veterinary Dental College explains that the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC) is an organization that awards a seal of acceptance to products that meet or exceed the VOHC standard for reducing accumulation of dental plaque or tartar. Therefore, these are the products that are most often recommended by veterinary dentists and general practitioners alike.
5: Does it Replace Annual Dental Cleanings?
Not usually! Routine oral examinations are still recommended, as are annual dental cleanings. Home dental care, including toothbrushing and daily chewing activities, are meant to complement, not necessarily replace, professional dental care.
For more information, check out Dr. Cathy Barnette’s “The Vet Tech’s Ultimate Guide to Communicating about Dentistry”
- “Accepted Products.” Veterinary Oral Health Council.
- “How periodontal disease develops.” Veterinary Oral Health Council.
- “Information for Owners.” American Veterinary Dental Council.
- Niemiec, Brook. “Concepts of Periodontal Disease and Therapy.” Wild West Veterinary Conference 2018 Proceedings.
- Veterinary Periodontal Disease. Royal Veterinary College.