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Veterinary Dentistry Opens Wide

SCHAUMBURG, Ill., Dec. 15 /PRNewswire/ -- From eliminating pain to improving an animal's overall well-being, pet dental health is gaining increased attention these days.

Gone is the time when veterinary dentistry was little more than an occasional cleaning or pulling of the teeth, according to a report in the Dec. 15, 2007, edition of the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association. Today, with advances in technology and veterinary education, veterinary dentistry has evolved into comprehensive treatment of periodontal and other dental diseases.

"The days of clean-and-pull or watchful waiting in the case of fractured teeth have been replaced by prevention, recognition, and treatment of dental disease and painful oral conditions," writes lead author Sharon Hoffman, DVM, a diplomate of the American Veterinary Dental College, in the report, titled "Myths and misconceptions in veterinary dentistry."

A pet's mouth, Hoffman says, deserves the same attention as the rest of the body. Pets, she said, should receive an oral exam each time they visit the veterinarian.

"Recognition and appropriate treatment of oral and dental disease in companion animals are important to overall patient well-being and comfort," she said. "There are all these things we can do to help pets with their dental problems. We know more than we did 20 years ago."

Advances in veterinary dentistry are helping dispel common misconceptions about what can and what should be treated, Hoffman said, including the idea that a broken tooth is no big deal for a dog or cat. Fractured teeth in pets are just as serious as they are for pet owners.

"We now know the pain of a fractured tooth is just as severe as it is in people," Hoffman said. "Pets with fractured teeth will still eat, they will still work, but they will do so in pain."

One of Hoffman's primary messages for pet owners is never to underestimate the importance of an animal's oral health.

"Oral health is important -- in both people and animals," Hoffman said. "Oral disease is the most prevalent disease in pets. It is the leading cause of mouth pain, and it can be the sign of other underlying medical issues."

The AVMA and its more than 75,000 member veterinarians are engaged in a wide variety of activities dedicated to advancing the science and art of animal, human and public health. Visit the AVMA Web site at for more information.

SOURCE American Veterinary Medical Association
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