Oral health: A multipronged approach
Periodontal disease increases the potential for septicemia, which can affect the cardiovascular system, liver, and kidneys. Although most practices offer dental cleaning and polishing services, it's my belief that these services are often offered too late—after the bony substructure is already permanently damaged.
Veterinary manufacturers are also helping in the effort to prevent periodontal disease by producing a myriad of professional and home care products, such as dentifrice, safe chew items, oral sealant gels, and diets with the mechanical and chemical ability to reduce plaque and calculus (see "New oral healthcare products").
2. In-house diagnostics. Today's quality dental programs include preanesthetic testing and diagnostic imaging. Preanesthetic testing gives veterinarians the ability to assess vital organ function in advance, which reduces the risk of complications for patients and helps allay clients' fears of anesthesia.
Diagnostic imaging is key to preventing periodontal disease. Periodontal disease causes bone loss, and dental radiography can detect the early signs that may not be visible at the tissue level. As with most diseases, early detection of periodontal disease helps ensure the best treatment outcome. Early intervention decreases patient discomfort and risk of disease, and owners don't have the added costs of treating advanced cases.
The advent of in-house diagnostic technology is a perfect fit for dental services and wellness medicine. In-house, automated dry chemistry profiles and blood counts allow practitioners to provide the wellness examination, blood work, and dental procedure in a same-day visit rather than scheduling them over multiple visits.
3. Quality anesthesia. The fear of anesthetizing pets—not cost—is the main reason for clients' adversity toward dental care. Many clients don't understand why their pets need anesthesia for prophylactic care when anesthesia isn't necessary for their own routine dental care.
Today's practitioner understands a client's uneasiness with anesthesia but does his or her best to allay those fears by: