Veterinary Dentistry Today

This is the right maxilla and mandible of an 11-year old Bichon Frisé that had a dental cleaning and extractions one year prior.  What is your clinical assessment of this patient prior to intraoral radiographs?

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Severe calculus, plaque, gingivitis and buccal mucositis. There is gingival recession of teeth 103, 104, 108, and 409 with purulent discharge of teeth 108 and 409.  There are many missing teeth.

Question: Assess the intraoral radiographs of the patient. After reviewing the intraoral radiographs, what is your assessment of the recommended treatment plan of yearly dental cleanings that client was given the previous year?

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The severity of the bone loss (greater than 50-100% bone loss = stage 4 periodontal disease), gingival recession and inflammation highlight a very common problem in veterinary dentistry. The practitioner is practicing far below the standard of care. Intraoral radiography would have likely shown similar changes a year prior and the proper recommendation for extraction would have been made in order to remove the chronic infection and inflammation associated with the diseased teeth. Unfortunately practices without radiography still perform dental cleaning procedures, commonly extracting only severely mobile teeth. As veterinarians and technicians, dedicated to quality dentistry, it is our obligation to discourage this approach to patient care and strive to utilize full mouth intraoral radiography to determine the treatment plan and therapeutic approach to the entire oral cavity of each patient.