3 tips to top the charts of dental greatness


Amplify your dental records with complete dental charting that labels the condition of each tooth. Photographs, full mouth intraoral radiographs and consistent terminology will help you stay in tune when you need to make dental referrals.


Barron Hall, DVM, DACVD, FAVD, a board-certified veterinary dentist at Animal Dental Clinic in Vienna, Virginia, offers these three tips to keep dental records like a pro.

Your dental record needs to contain more than words to help record critical information about the state of the pet's mouth. Consider this advice:

1. Start with six “before” pictures to document what the teeth looked like beforehand. And if you notice other issues, like a bite that's “off,” you may choose to add more photos.

2. Take full-mouth intraoral radiographs on every patient. If you do this, Dr. Hall says you will notice problems both in areas that look abnormal and in areas that look fine.

3. Have a dental chart-NOT a 2-inch by 3-inch stick on post-it. You need a full page of paper that lets you document each tooth-all 42 “patients” in a dog's mouth and all 30 “patients” in a cat's mouth.

Check out the American Veterinary Dental College website at avdc.org for a four-page list of common abbreviations to use for dental records. This is invaluable when you refer cases so the referral practice better understands what's going on in the pet's mouth.

Dr. Hall says he prefers to use two dental charts-the first to show pathology and the second to show the procedures performed that day.

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