Episode 21: 3 key things missing in veterinary dentistry and what to do about it

October 13, 2020
dvm360 Staff

On this episode of The Vet Blast Podcast Dr Adam Christman is joined by veterinary dentist Dr Jan Bellows, who shares several key ways to improve dentistry at your practice.

When it comes to veterinary dentistry, there are 3 key things that veterinarians are missing, says Jan Bellows, DVM, DAVDC, DABVP, FAVD, owner of All Pets Dental in Weston, Florida, in the latest episode of The Vet Blast Podcast.

One of the top misses?: addressing the problem at hand instead of assuming clients will tend to the issue at home. “Periodontal disease is a progressive disease, the most commonality that animals have… and it’s going to progress from stage 1, which is just gingivitis, to stage 2 to stage to stage 3 to stage 4 quickly.” So, if a dog or cat has stage 2 periodontal disease and you don’t think the client will provide adequate home care, take that tooth out, he tells Dr Christman.

Second on the list of misses: not taking full-mouth x-rays on every single case, says Bellows. “Since 60% of the tooth is below the gumline, you can’t see 60% of the problem … and unless you take full-mouth x-rays, you are going to miss a lot of disease,” says Bellows, adding that intraoral x-rays are so important to dental care. About half of practices don’t even have intraoral x-rays, he says.

Another barrier to full-mouth x-rays is price— but there are ways around that, says Bellows.

“Remember, when you ask a client if they want to take x-rays, they don’t have the same resources we have or years of education. They don’t understand the true importance of dentistry for their pet,” he says. “They only focus on the financial issue, and that isn’t fair.” Orchestrating dentistry into your wellness plan is one way to combat this issue, says Bellows, adding that you can offer payment plans as well.

Finally, veterinarians need to come up with tailored ways to help clients practice home dental health care to help avoid plaque accumulation. Try offering easy dental care solutions. For example, for clients who struggle with brushing their pet’s teeth, you can recommend dental diets that help to control plaque or chews.

“That is a major thing veterinarians are missing. We actually appoint the client to come back usually monthly after we do professional teeth cleaning and scaling to see how they are doing with home care. So it’s something to consider,” says Bellows.

Listen below to learn more about what your practice might be missing when it comes to veterinary dentistry.