For Veterinary Professionals

As Board Certified Veterinary Dentists, we work closely with referring veterinarians. We value our relationship with our veterinary partners and seek to provide the latest news, information and educational opportunities related to the veterinary dentistry field, all aimed to help you best serve your clients.

Vet Dental Update – Vol. 1 No. 4

Evaluation of maxillary arterial blood flow in anesthetized cats with mouth closed & open
Barton-Lamb AL, Martin-Flores M, Scrivani PV, et al.
Vet J. 2013 Feb. 7.

The goal of this study was to investigate whether maximal opening of the mouth by a mouth gag affects maxillary artery blood flow in six anesthetized cats. The electroretinogram, brainstem auditory evoked response, and magnetic resonance angiography were evaluated qualitatively to assess blood flow with the mouth open and closed. Maximal opening of the mouth caused alterations in several indicators of blood flow in some individual cats.

Efficacy and safety of deracoxib for control of postoperative pain and inflammation associated with soft tissue surgery in dogs.
Bienhoff SE, Smith ES, Roycroft LM, Roberts ES
Vet Surg. 41(3):336-44, 2012.

Deracoxib was administered at a dose of 1-2 mk/kg/day for 3 days for control of postoperative pain and inflammation associated with soft tissue surgery in dogs. Dogs were given a preoperative treatment and again once daily for 2 additional days after surgery. Pain evaluation was done using the Glasgow Composite Pain Scale (GCPS). Significantly fewer dogs treated with deracoxib had to be rescued with pain intervention than placebo. Dogs receiving deracoxib had numerically lower GCPS scores. Study suggests that perioperative administration of deracoxib to dogs at 1-2 mg/kg/day for 3 days significantly improves analgesia in the postoperative surgical period after soft tissue surgery.

Evaluation of the risk of endocarditis and other cardiovascular events on the basis of the severity of periodontal disease in dogs.
Glickman LT, Glickman NW, Moore GE, Goldstein GS, Lewis HB.
J Am Vet Med Assoc. 234(4):486-94, 2009.

Significant associations were detected between the severity of periodontal disease and the subsequent risk of cardiovascular-related conditions, such as endocarditis and cardiomyopathy, but not between the severity of periodontal disease and the risk of a variety of other common noncardiovascular-related conditions. The findings of this observational study, similar to epidemiologic studies in humans, suggested that periodontal disease was associated with cardiovascular-related conditions, such as endocarditis and cardiomyopathy. Chronic inflammation is probably an important mechanism connecting bacterial flora in the oral cavity of dogs with systemic disease. Canine health may be improved if veterinarians and pet owners place a higher priority on routine dental care.

Multiple dental developmental abnormalities following canine distemper infection.
Bittegeko SB, Arnbjerg J, Nkya R, Tevik A.
J Am Anim Hosp Assoc. 31(1):42-5, 1995.

Multiple dental developmental abnormalities (e.g., dental impaction, partial eruption, oligodontia, enamel hypoplasia, and dentin hypoplasia) in a 10-month-old, female, Tanzanian tropical mixed-breed puppy are reported. Various permanent teeth were involved. These included impacted mandibular canine and first and third premolar teeth; a partially erupted maxillary canine tooth; oligodontia of a mandibular fourth premolar tooth; enamel hypoplasia of the maxillary and mandibular canine teeth, incisors, and premolars; and dentin hypoplasia of the maxillary incisors, maxillary premolars, and mandibular premolars. The puppy had clinical canine distemper at the age of two months and had no history of any other systemic nor generalized infection prior to the time when the dental abnormalities were observed.



Vet Dental Update Vol. 1 No. 1

Ophthalmic manifestations and complications of dental disease in dogs and cats
Ramsey DT, Marretta SM, Hamor RE, et al.
J Am Anim Hosp Assoc. 1996 May-Jun;32(3):215-24.

Because of the intimate anatomic relationship between the maxillary dentition and ophthalmic structures, dental disease may manifest itself as ophthalmic disease. Primary dental disease should always be a consideration when encountering diseases involving the globe and/or orbit. Dental radiographs can help identify any existing dental disease. Inappropriate dental treatment may also result in iatrogenic damage to ophthalmic structures. Continue reading “Vet Dental Update Vol. 1 No. 1” »

Boomer Wisconsin Service Dog

Oral Health Matters for Service Dogs

Anyone who sees a service dog in action can’t help but be amazed by the abilities and skills these dogs demonstrate with their owners. Whether assisting law enforcement, guiding an owner safely across the street or being a valuable part of allowing more independance for someone with a medical condition, these dogs are truly phenomenal.

The valuable partnership service dogs provide their owners, makes the dogs health of the utmost concern. As veterinary dentists, we know well how vital a dog’s oral health is to its overall health, which is why each Veterinary Dentist listed with proudly participates in the Free National Service Dog Oral Health Exam program through the American Veterinary Dental College (AVDC). Continue reading “Oral Health Matters for Service Dogs” »

Annual Veterinary Dental Forum

The recent Veterinary Dental Forum was attended by veterinarians and veterinary technicians from around the world. Over 1000 individuals attended the three days of lectures and instructional labs on veterinary dentistry. The annual vet dental forum is an opportunity for our group of board certified veterinary dentists to come together and share with one another as well as provide education to the entire veterinary community, which ultimately impacts both oral and overall health of people’s pets.

Dr. Dale Kressin, of Animal Dentistry and Oral Surgery Specialists taught a lab about veterinary oral surgery and dental extraction techniques. Dr. Tony Woodward, Animal Dental Care, presented about Warm Gutta Percha Obturation Techniques and Vital Pulp Therapy. Dr. Brook Niemiec, Southern California Veterinary Specialties, presented on unusual feline oral pathology, surgical veterinary endodontics, dental emergencies and advanced periodontal treatment. Dr. Michael Peak, Tampa Bay Veterinary Dentistry, taught numerous labs on endodontics as well as a lab on veterinary dentin bonding and composite restorations.

Dr. Robert Boyd, Veterinary Dental Services, presented two hours of advanced lecture on veterinary endodontics and 2-four hour advanced lab sessions on veterinary endodontics. Lectures covered LightSpeed (LSX) Instruments that are used for root canal treatment in animals including dogs, cats and some zoo animals as well as the EndoVac a negative pressure irrigation system that is used in concert with LSX instruments to clean and disinfect an animals root canal system. These lab sessions were attended by veterinarians, veterinary dentists and residents who are learning advanced veterinary dental techniques. Dr. Boyd first introduced this innovative endodontic instrument system to veterianry dentists at the 16th Annual Veterinary Dental Forum. Since LightSpeed was first introduced many advances and changes have taken place in both the instruments and and their use. EndoVac is a relatively new irrigation system that compliments the LSX instruments to effectively treat endodontic disease in animals.

Dr. Curt Coffman of Arizona Veterinary Dental Specialists presented instructional lectures on veterinary root canal treatment and crown restorations, and organized a hands-on lab with Dr. Robert Furman, of Southern California Veterinary Dental Specialties, teaching veterinarians the basics of metal crown restorations in dogs. Dr. P. Vall of Animal Dental Care also offered presentations on surgical extractions of maxilliary and mandibular molars as well as gingival physiology.

During the Awards presentation Dr. Visser as a past winner, presented the award for the 2012 Fellow of the Year. (Left to Right Dr. Brook Niemiec Dr. Randi Brannon, Dr. Ken Capron and Dr. Chris Visser )

Root Canal vs. Extraction of Dog or Cat Teeth

Broken Dog Tooth Needing Root Canal - Veterinary Dentistry

A broken dog tooth needing endodontic or root canal therapy.

Pet owners are often unaware that in some cases they have the option to choose veterinary endodontic treatment (root canal) as opposed to an extraction of a broken or dead tooth. This may sound strange and not necessary for a pet, but there are some things you might want to consider before opting to have a dog or cat’s tooth extracted without further evaluation from a veterinary dental specialist.

  1. Some teeth are more important including the pre-molars, back molars and canine teeth. Pre-molars and molars are very deeply rooted and extraction is painful as the roots must be extracted from the bone. The canine teeth are also extremely important and extraction of these may compromise the jaw bone or weaken nasal structure.
  2. Teeth are vital in your pet’s ability to chew effectively. When important chewing teeth are extracted the teeth don’t work together for both chewing and cleansing, which significantly increases the chances for future periodontal disease.
  3. Certain upper canine extractions may lead to the lip folding over the gum line, which in turn may be traumatized by the lower teeth hitting the lip while chewing.
  4. Certain teeth may have an abnormal root structure (dilaceration). This makes an extraction very difficult with potential complications from root fracture, inability to remove root tips, bone fracture and excessive bleeding.
  5. Excessive bleeding, root fracture, jaw fracture and lip trapping are all possible complications of extraction, especially for certain deep rooted teeth.
Radiograph x-ray of dog root canal - vet dentistry

Radiograph (X-ray) of endontic files in dogs tooth to prepare for fillings.

What does a root canal on a dog or cat involve? In short, one to two small holes are drilled in the tooth, infected pulp (nerves and vessels within the tooth) is removed, the inside of the tooth is cleaned, and filled with material that won’t support bacterial growth (infection).  The final step is the placement of a filling to prevent bacteria from entering the treated tooth. Following the root canal, a crown may be recommended to strengthen the treated tooth.

Pet root canals are not always recommended and there are certainly cases where an extraction is the optimal treatment for a particular dog’s or cat’s tooth. However, the only way to adequately assess the dead or broken tooth is with dental radiographs (x-rays). This provides a complete picture of both the tooth as well as the root and bone structure. Without an x-ray, a veterinarian would have no idea what lies below the tooth and to proceed with an extraction leaves the door open for numerous complications and costs to the pet owner.

Dr. Tony Woodward, DVM, AVDC discusses root canals in pets.

Expense is always a consideration, however, a root canal may not be much more cost than a surgical extraction of a tooth particularly in the case of larger teeth or those with complicated root structures. In addition, preservation of your pet’s tooth may prevent costs related to future periodontal disease or bone loss. A veterinary dentist will be able to provide you a thorough exam and detailed treatment plan with explanation of costs involved.

Root canal treatments are very successful and many times a far better solution than an extraction, which can be painful to the pet and involve significant bone loss. Board certified veterinary dentists have performed thousands of root canals on dogs, cats and even exotic animals. You can count on knowing that they will provide an accurate assessment and discuss your pet’s individual situation and whether saving the tooth with root canal therapy is an option.

Ask your local board certified veterinary dentist about root canal options for your dog or cat:


Lending a hand to provide service dog oral health exams

During the month of August our group of Board Certified Veterinary Dentists was proud to provide free oral health exams to service dogs through a program sponsored by the American Veterinary Dental College (AVDC). Through this program service dogs received oral health exams to help identify any areas of painful oral disease and the dog owners were given important information regarding proper oral care and education for preventing oral disease and keeping their service dog’s mouth healthy and pain free.

Service dogs work in a variety of areas as partners to owners who may have medical disabilities as well as working in public service providing important and unique services to military, police and search and rescue organizations. It is vital that these dogs are in top health and don’t have painful oral disease that not only is uncomfortable, but also could impact their ability to serve their owners.

Boomer Wisconsin Service Dog

Boomer demonstrates his skills & the important part his mouth plays in his job.

In Wisconsin, Dr. Dale Kressin works with police officer Eric and his partner Boomer. Boomer did a demonstration for an event and as you can see, his mouth needs to be in the best condition for him to perform his job. Boomer has had multiple teeth treated for fractures which have kept him pain free and in top condition.

Dr. Tony Woodward provided a number of exams at his office in Colorado and in addition to recommending the routine oral care owners should talk with their regular veterinarians about, he was also able to teach them how to provide preventative care at home and things to watch for that could be their service dog may need to be seen at by a vet dentist.

TJ Police Service Dog Oral Health

TJ gets a high five for passing his oral health exam.

Dr. Woodward also had the pleasure of giving TJ, a Colorado Springs Police Dog a clean bill of oral health after his exam. TJ was the only service dog who passed his oral health exam with flying colors and thanks to excellent care by TJ’s partner, had no signs of dental disease.

Rugby Service Dog Oral Health Exam

Rugby gets his oral health exam.

A hearing dog named Rugby visited Dr. Brook Niemiec in San Diego. In addition to the exam, Dr. Niemiec used Orastrip test strips to test the level of dental disease in Rugby’s mouth. The strips are not a replacement for a dental exam, but measure the level of bacteria that can cause periodontal disease in the dog’s mouth. Rugby’s teeth looked good and also had a low level of bacteria on the orastrip test which gave his owners peace of mind.

Zoe Service Dog Oral Health Exam

Zoe is a hospice service dog.

This is Zoe, a service dog who provides pet therapy to hospice patients. Dr. Chris Visser provided Zoe’s free exam among others to a variety of service dogs in Arizona. Dr. Michael Peak also provided free exams to a number of Florida service dogs.

It’s really amazing the work these dogs are trained to provide and as veterinary dental specialists, we want to be sure their owners are aware of the importance of maintaining the dog’s oral and dental health.




Vet Dental Update – 8/15/2012

Effect of veterinarian-client-patient interactions on client adherence to dentistry and surgery recommendations in companion-animal practice.
Kanji N, Coe JB, Adams CL, Shaw JR. JAVMA. 240(4):427-36, 2012.
Abstract: This study examined client/veterinarian interactions, looking specifically at the language used when recommending dental or surgical treatment and how this effected whether or not the recommended treatment was eventually provided to the patient. The participating veterinarians were videotaped during 83 interactions with their clients, and their treatment recommendations were graded as being either clear or ambiguous. Patient records were examined six months later to see if the patient had received the recommended procedure. When a recommendation was made in a “clear” fashion, the patient was seven times more likely to have received the recommended procedure. Additionally, the clients who pursued treatment for their pet were much more satisfied with the process than those who did not. Practitioners should strive to use clear statements such as “your pet needs a dental cleaning and dental x-rays” rather than an ambiguous statement like “You might want to consider a dental cleaning for your pet”.

Effectiveness of a Vegetable Chew on Periodontal Disease Parameters in Toy Breed Dogs
Clarke DE, Kelman M, Perkins N. J Vet Dent. 28(4): 230-235, 2011
Abstract: Plaque control is an important part to maintaining proper oral health. Many clients are not able to properly brush the teeth of Toy breed dogs. This study demonstrated the effectiveness of a vegetable based chew in reducing gingivitis, plaque, and calculus. The study was a 70-day crossover study with controls. Although daily brushing and regular professional cleanings are still the gold standard in toy breeds, this study provides another method of improving oral health in pets.

Bonded sealants for uncomplicated crown fractures.
Theuns P, Niemiec BA. J Vet Dent.28(2):130-2, 2011.
Fractured teeth are a very common occurrence in dogs. When the root canal is directly exposed, root canal therapy or extraction is necessary. Uncomplicated crown fractures are defined as tooth fractures which expose the dentin, but not the pulp (root canal/nerve). This creates sensitivity as well as allows a route for bacterial entry into the tooth, possibly causing abscessation. A bonded sealant is a simple procedure to treat this common condition and relieve sensitivity. This article details the indications (and contraindications), materials and techniques for this procedure. This is a must for every general practitioner.

Amlodipine-induced gingival hyperplasia in a Great Dane.
Pariser MS, Berdoulay P. JAAHA. 47(5):375-6, 2011
Abstract: Gingival enlargement or gingival overgrowth (also known as gingival hyperplasia) is a condition where the gingiva grows excessively. Gingival enlargement can create pseudopockets where plaque can accumulate, possibly resulting in periodontal disease. Frequently this condition is diagnosed as idiopathic where no underlying cause can be found. The boxer breed one of the more common breeds affected. Typically the condition is treated by gingivectomy and gingival recontouring as needed. However, there can be underlying causes that can create gingival enlargement. In this case, a 3 year old spayed female Great Dane developed gingival enlargement after treatment of systemic hypertension was treated with amlodipine. Hydralazine replaced amlodipine for treatment of hypertension and the gingival enlargement was mostly resolved in 9 months. Other drugs that have been implicated in gingival enlargement are cyclosporine and some anti-convulsants. Therefore, after diagnosis of gingival enlargement, a careful history should be taken to determine if a medication may be the cause of the condition.