Centers for Oral Care
Animal Dentistry Solutions
A BLOG by DH DeForge, VMD
Fellow of the Academy of Veterinary Dentistry
Charting A New Course
“Ask yourself, “Why am I doing things the way I’m doing them?” If the answer is: “Because I’ve always done it this way~then it’s time to re-evaluate.” Dr. Richard Barnes
One of the hardest parts of being a veterinarian is accepting change. Habit becomes routine and change can be excused by being too busy to assimilate NEW knowledge and the benefit of change.
Here is a way to determine if you are ready for change. Ask two or three of your technicians what is their favorite song and then ask yourself what is your favorite song. If you have never heard of their music, you have closed your mind to change. You may not like the sound but you must accept that the culture of music is always changing. Enjoy what you remember but never be closed to change.
You cannot pursue success……. it must come through NEW daily action plans. Your success will always come from blending traditional thinking with great discovery.
For example….how many cases of enamel hypocalcification have you seen in the last 12 months that you dismissed as “normal” or treated with a teeth cleaning. Many people suffer from dental hypersensitivity and utilize specific dentifrices to relieve pain. Other individuals need treatment[s] by restorative dentists or periodontists to remove discomfort. Our animal friends deserve the same care to remove pain and restore a quality of life.
Enamel hypocalcification involves multiple areas of dentition being devoid of enamel. This is the “bad pain” that animals experience when they have enamel loss. It is a pain that no animal should ever have to suffer. They live with pain thinking that pain is normal. It is a tragedy of discomfort that can be eliminated with a check-up by an animal dentist.
Enamel hypoplasia is a defect of the teeth in which the enamel is thin; absent; and-or deficient in amount, caused by defective enamel matrix formation. Usually, the condition involves part of the tooth having pits or erosion centers exposing dentin. These are painful teeth.
How is tooth enamel loss treated?
Treatment of tooth enamel loss depends on the problem. Before treatment all teeth must have dental x-rays. The dental x-rays will identify pathology and determine choice of care by the animal dentist. Veterinary dentists will use resin adhesive and composite bonding to protect affected teeth, decrease pain, and increase patient comfort.
If the enamel loss is significant, an animal dentist may recommend covering the tooth with a crown. The crown protects the tooth from further problems.
Teeth with developmental enamel defects that have been restored still have plaque and tartar-retentive properties like any other tooth. They are prone to periodontal disease. Homecare programs outlined by an animal dentist and periodic professional supportive periodontal care are a very important part of the commitment to manage these patients.
Changes noted on oral x-rays may be minimally present at the time of the initial therapy even though endodontic disease may already be present. That is why the client must be counseled on the importance of follow up dental x-rays in treated patients.
With time and restorative breakdown, re-exposure of the dentin may occur leading to endodontic compromise. If there is endodontic compromise, root canal therapy and/or exodontia may be elected by the animal dentist as treatment choices.
Radiographic evaluation every twelve months is very important along with supportive periodontal care. Homecare maintenance programs, as initiated by the animal dentist, become a way of life.
Bonding may need to be repeated, more frequently, in patients with hard chewing behavior. Patients should be removed from exposure to rawhide; pig ear; cow hoof; baked marrow bones; meat bones; bully sticks; antler; hard plastic and rubber toys; and stopped from chewing on sticks or playing with rocks.