Periodontal disease is the most common disease identified in dogs and cats.1 Local severity and the impact on the rest of the body are reasons that all companion animal patients should receive an oral examination every time they are at a veterinary facility.2,3
Veterinary dentistry has progressed from the dental or prophylactic procedures of the 20th century, which often involved an injection of a short-acting tranquilizer or anesthetic and a few minutes spent removing supragingival calculus, to the current comprehensive treatment of periodontal and other dental diseases that require general anesthesia. The days of clean-and-pull or watchful waiting in the case of fractured teeth have been replaced by prevention, recognition, and treatment of dental disease and painful oral conditions. As recently as 25 years ago, there were a limited number of veterinary textbooks, continuing education opportunities for practitioners desiring to improve their dental knowledge and skills, and referral practices for dental care of animals. Currently, veterinary students and practitioners have multiple veterinary dental textbooks, journal articles, and quality opportunities for continuing education, and referral to a board-certified veterinary dentist is a realistic option.
Some traditional practices and misconceptions are still being taught and shared. Myths and misconceptions in other areas of veterinary practice have been addressed.4-6 The objectives of the information provided here are to clarify new concepts, dispel common misconceptions and outdated beliefs, improve awareness of current veterinary dentistry, and aid practicing veterinarians in the delivery of a higher quality of dental care.
Myth—Veterinary dentistry involves minor procedures that require no special patient preparation or monitoring during anesthesia.
Reality—Dental patients often become hypothermic because of the cooling of a patient as a result of continuous use of water in the mouth from power scalers and high-speed drills, prolonged procedures, and metal tables. Very small animals (< 5 kg [< 11 lb]) are especially at risk of developing hypothermia because of their larger surface area-to-volume ratio, compared with heavier animals.7 Hypothermia defined as mild (36.7° to 37.2°C [98° to 99°F]), moderate (35.6° to 36.7°C [96° to 98°F]), severe (33.3° to 35.6°C [92° to 96°F]), and critical (< 33.3°C) has been correlated with decreases in heart rate, respiratory rate, and blood pressure; CNS depression; alterations in coagulation, cellular and humoral immunity, and wound healing; morbidity; and death.8,9 Bradycardia secondary to hypothermia is unresponsive to anticholinergics.10 Hypothermic animals require more time to recover from anesthesia.11 Simple measures such as continuous monitoring of intraoperative temperature, use of circulating warm water blankets or forced-air warming devices, and IV administration of warm fluids will aid in the prevention and correction of hypothermia.
Many patients that undergo dental procedures are old and have other problems, such as mitral valve regurgitation, hepatic disease, or renal disease. Consequently, anesthesia of these patients is likely to entail greater risk than would anesthesia of younger, healthier patients. The anesthetic protocol should be planned only after careful consideration of results of physical examinations and laboratory tests. Appropriate IV administration of fluids and monitoring of blood pressure, oxygenation, heart rate and rhythm, and body temperature are especially important in older or compromised patients.4 Measurement of end-tidal carbon dioxide concentrations by the use of capnography can provide clinicians with information about a patient's state of perfusion, ventilation, and metabolism as well as indications about equipment malfunction.12
Myth—Dental extraction sites should be left open to provide drainage and allow healing by second intention.
Reality—Extraction of teeth is a surgical procedure. After preoperative radiography, treatment planning, and extraction, the alveolus is debrided carefully with a spoon curette to remove any infected granulation tissue, debris, purulent material, or necrotic bone. Rough alveolar bone edges are smoothed.13,14 Ideally, the gingiva should lie flat against the alveolar bone. Suturing the alveolus closed helps to speed healing, prevent infection, and reduce postoperative pain.13 Suturing is mandatory following extraction of multiple mandibular premolars and molars because the gingiva typically falls away from the extraction site, which leaves bone exposed. Exposed bone can cause pain and leads to delayed wound healing.15 Sufficient gingiva is elevated to allow suturing without tension; otherwise, it is likely there would be wound dehiscence. To avoid tension, the flap may be released by further undermining or careful incision of the underlying periosteum. If it is not possible to fully close a gingival flap without tension, then partial closure is preferable to tension; the resulting defect will heal by granulation and epithelialization. Closure or partial closure will also help to keep in place the blood clot that forms in the alveolus following tooth extraction, which is important for optimal healing.15
Hemorrhage may be a complication of exodontia. Hemostatic defects may not be apparent until after extraction; associated hemorrhage does not stop within a few minutes, and copious bleeding continues and can become a life-threatening situation. Suturing the gingiva with a hemostatic material in the alveolus can be beneficial.15
When an oronasal fistula is evident before extraction (because of extensive periodontal disease) or after extraction (as a complication), then closure of the fistula is required to prevent a constant influx of food and liquid into the nasal cavity.13,16,17
Myth—Swelling or a draining tract located in the facial area below either eye is always an indication for extraction of the maxillary fourth premolar tooth.
Reality—Endodontic disease resulting in periapical inflammation and abscess formation may cause swelling of hard or soft tissues or a draining tract. In dogs, this is most commonly secondary to endodontic disease of the maxillary fourth premolar (carnassial tooth), hence the term carnassial abscess.18 Dental radiography with periodontal probing of all teeth on the caudal maxilla is necessary to establish a diagnosis. A similar condition sometimes affects the maxillary first molar or third premolar. A facial (suborbital) swelling or draining tract may also recur when extraction is used as treatment and a root tip is left in place.18 Additional nondental causes of suborbital facial swellings or draining tracts include sialoadenitis,20 bite wound abscess, foreign body abscess (such as gunshot or wood impaction), maxillary fracture and bone sequestration, and nasal or maxillary neoplasia.21 Orbital or retro-orbital cellulitis may or may not be related to extension of infection from a caudal tooth root. Examination of the caudal portion of the oral cavity and dental radiography are indicated in patients with decreased retropulsion of the globe, exophthalmos, ocular discharge, and periocular swelling with or without evidence of pain when opening the mouth. Other differential diagnoses to consider in patients with orbital or retro-orbital cellulitis or abscess include extension of a nasal infection (bacterial or fungal), zygomatic sialoadenitis, and foreign body penetration.22
Radiography is essential in the diagnosis and treatment planning for suborbital swellings. Additional helpful diagnostic tests may include periodontal probing, collection of tissue biopsy specimens for histologic examination, or computed tomography.
Extraction of the maxillary fourth premolar tooth may not always be appropriate. Although there are some absolute indications (eg, no other treatment option exists) for extraction, alternative treatment is recommended for strategic teeth (permanent canines and carnassial teeth) that are periodontally sound. Endodontic treatment and restoration of the crown can allow a tooth to be maintained.23
Myth—Patients that need radiation therapy of the head or neck should always have teeth extracted prior to radiation treatment.
Reality—High-dose radiation therapy of the head and neck causes a hypovascular, hypocellular, and hypoxic state in the jaws and surrounding soft tissues. This can lead to delayed wound healing and osteoradionecrosis of bone.24,25 The risk of osteoradionecrosis continues for the remainder of the patient's life and does not decrease with time.26
It has long been believed that extraction of teeth in poor condition (those with periodontal disease or caries) within the high-dose volume area prior to administration of high-dose radiation therapy would reduce the risk of osteoradionecrosis. This hypothesis has been extended to patients with teeth in fair to good condition who have a good chance of being cured and a long life expectancy, particularly when the likelihood of maintaining the health of their teeth is in question. However, findings from a large series of human patients with oropharyngeal cancer who received radiation therapy revealed that extraction prior to radiation treatment does not reduce the risk of osteoradionecrosis, regardless of the condition of the teeth.25 There was no difference in the rate of osteoradionecrosis between patients with healthy teeth in the radiation-treatment field who had teeth extracted prior to radiation therapy, which indicates no clear benefit to the use of prophylactic extractions.25 In a prospective study24 of 40 patients who received nasopharyngeal radiation therapy, extractions after radiation treatments had a low risk of complications, and results pointed to age of a patient as a factor that may influence wound healing.
The pretreatment recommendation remains to extract teeth in the proposed high-dose treatment field when they are in poor condition because of existing dental disease. Teeth that are in fair condition, as determined by a veterinary dentist, need not be prophylactically extracted prior to radiation treatment in an attempt to prevent subsequent osteoradionecrosis.25
During radiation therapy, patients should receive daily dental care by the owners at home and regular professional periodontal debridement (scaling and root planing). A long-term, 3-month interval between professional dental examinations is recommended.26,27 When compliance with daily dental hygiene at home or professional dental care is lacking, which is often the case in companion animals, it may be prudent that teeth affected by dental disease and that will be exposed to radiation be extracted prior to radiation treatment.
Myth—A fractured tooth can always be treated with watchful waiting.
Reality—Veterinarians commonly examine fractured teeth in companion animals. A survey19 of oral and dental diseases in 63 anesthetized dogs revealed that 27% had fractured teeth and 10% had multiple fractured teeth. Signs of pain or discomfort may not be recognized for several reasons. Veterinary patients often do not display signs of pain and discomfort and therefore may be extremely stoic and silent. Clinical signs of pain and discomfort may only be evident as subtle changes in behavior, and veterinarians and veterinary staff members may not be adequately trained in evaluating animal behavior. Physical examinations may not be consistently scheduled for veterinary patients, and oral evaluations are too often inadequate, especially when a patient has pain or discomfort and is protecting the oral cavity. A patient with a fractured tooth may initially have severe pain, which subsequently subsides. Later in the disease progression, an affected dog may have pain associated with periapical lesions. Periapical abscesses or draining tracts associated with chronic fractured teeth are often hidden from clear view by the lips and buccal mucosa, whereas periapical granulomas are typically not associated with clinical signs.
Oral radiography is fundamental to the diagnosis of periapical disease. Early intervention for disease prevention or disease progression is a superior approach to the watchful waiting paradigm. The American College of Veterinary Anesthesiologists has adopted a position statement that includes the following concept: “Animal pain and suffering are clinically important conditions that adversely affect an animal's quality of life”.28 Furthermore, the American College of Veterinary Anesthesiologists encourages veterinarians and veterinary staff members to increase their knowledge and skills with regard to pain recognition and management and to apply them to develop effective and safe protocols for the management of pain, which offers clients optimal treatment options for their pets.
Veterinarians are encouraged to develop a philosophy that promotes prevention and alleviation of pain in animals. A proactive approach to dental care in companion animals is an important step. Veterinarians are encouraged to be proactive in recognizing and addressing dental pain and infection associated with fractured teeth in companion animals. Performing fundamental diagnostic testing (oral radiography and periodontal probing) and determining the correct diagnosis is essential, and referral to board-certified specialists is recommended when appropriate dental services cannot be provided by a veterinarian.
Myth—An animal with an abscessed tooth can always be treated with antimicrobials.
Reality—Fractured teeth are subject to bacterial ingress, pulpitis, pulp necrosis, and periapical inflammation (abscess, granuloma, or periodontitis).29 Fractured enamel or dentin, with or without pulp exposure, does not have the ability to heal or seal over. A tooth does not need to be fractured for there to be periapical inflammation. Acute traumatic injury (blunt trauma), chronic trauma (bruxism or concussive chewing forces), or loss of blood supply (luxation) can result in pulpitis, eventual pulp necrosis, and formation of a periapical granuloma or abscess. Discoloration of any tooth is a strong indicator of pulpitis, and pulp necrosis is a likely outcome.30 A periapical abscess may be identified by facial swellings or draining tracts. Veterinarians should examine animals for swellings or draining tracts intraorally and extraorally.
A common practice for veterinarians is to treat an animal with an abscessed tooth by administration of antimicrobials. It is important to understand that antimicrobials alone are ineffective in treating most periapical abscesses. The typical outcome associated with anti microbial treatment is variable degrees of clinical improvement (none to substantial) during treatment with immediate recurrence of clinical signs after the cessation of antimicrobial administration. The variability in effectiveness of antimicrobial treatment may be related to the antimicrobial (spectrum of activity, dose, or route of administration), patient (age, immune status, apical blood supply, or drugs concurrently administered), or cause of the abscess (chemical, thermal, or infectious agent). When an abscess caused by bacteria is treated by administration with an antimicrobial that has an ideal spectrum of activity, the number of organisms within the infected pulp may be excessive (or overwhelm the host defense) or the blood supply may be inadequate for effective treatment. For these reasons, antimicrobial treatment alone will rarely be an effective treatment for animals with endodontic disease. Teeth associated with a periapical lesion must be treated by endodontic treatment or extraction. Antimicrobials may be beneficial as an adjuvant treatment. Antimicrobials should never be considered a monotherapy for treatment of animals with oral infections and should not be used as preventive management of oral conditions.31
Myth—Accumulation of supragingival calculus on teeth is an indicator of the severity of periodontitis.
Reality—Periodontal disease encompasses inflammation, infection, and subsequent destruction of the periodontium (gingiva, cementum, periodontal ligament, and alveolar bone). Gingivitis is gingival inflammation without loss of connective tissue attachment (periodontal pockets).32 Periodontitis involves gingivitis and destruction of the periodontium. This destruction may or may not result in gingival recession, but it often results in subgingival attachment loss; periodontal pockets; and, eventually, tooth loss.
Supragingival calculus may not always indicate the severity of periodontitis. There can be minimal supragingival calculus and gingival recession in animals with advanced periodontitis.33 Periodontal probing to determine attachment loss and intraoral radiography can be used to indicate the severity of periodontitis.33,34 An association between attachment loss and body weight has been reported.35 Attachment loss decreased significantly with increasing body weight, with the most evident decrease detected when comparing very small (< 7.3 kg [< 16.1 lb]), small (7.3 to 13.6 kg [16.1 to 29.9 lb]), and medium-sized (14.0 to 27.3 kg [30.8 to 60.1 lb]) dogs. The process of attachment loss is hastened by the higher ratio of tooth size to jaw size in small dogs.35
Myth—Periodontal disease can be treated by scaling teeth to remove supragingival calculus.
Reality—This myth involves 2 misconceptions. The first misconception is that calculus causes periodontal disease. The primary cause of gingivitis and periodontitis is accumulation of dental plaque on tooth surfaces. Contrary to common belief, calculus is only a secondary etiologic factor. Supragingival calculus, per se, does not exert an irritant effect on gingival tissues. In fact, there may be a normal attachment between the periodontal connective tissue and calculus if the calculus surface has been disinfected with chlorhexidine. Sterile calculus encapsulated in connective tissue does not cause severe inflammation or abscesses. It has been clearly established that the rough surface of calculus alone does not initiate gingivitis. The main importance of calculus in periodontal disease appears to be its role as a plaque-retentive surface. Accumulation of plaque on tooth surfaces induces an inflammatory response, and removal of plaque leads to resolution of the clinical signs of inflammation.36,37 A layer of plaque always covers calculus.23 The continual assault of supragingival plaque on the local immune system causes gingivitis, and in susceptible animals, gingivitis can progress to periodontitis as subgingival plaque acts in combination with the host's immune system to destroy the periodontium.38
The second misconception is that periodontal disease can be corrected by treating teeth by use of a supragingival process. Periodontitis that has progressed to subgingival attachment loss and pocket formation requires treatment other than scaling of the crowns of teeth. Periodontal treatment includes supragingival and subgingival scaling, root planing with curettes, or periodontal débridement with an ultrasonic scaler designed for that purpose; polishing; subgingival lavage; and, sometimes, periodontal surgery.23 It may also include subgingival application of doxycycline in a biodegradable system.39
Myth—Dental radiography is not necessary prior to extraction of severely mobile teeth.
Reality—Severe tooth mobility in veterinary dentistry is described as mobility increased in any direction other than axial over a distance exceeding 1.0 mm or any axial movement.40 There are multiple causes of tooth mobility including periodontal disease, trauma, and neoplasia. The extent of periodontal disease; a fracture of the alveolus, root, mandible, or maxilla; and neoplasia are not always evident on oral examination alone. Preoperative radiographs are mandatory to assess the pathologic changes and identify morphologic abnormalities (eg, curved or fracture roots, root resorption, or fractures) prior to exodontia.23 Preoperative dental radiographs of mobile teeth are beneficial for treatment planning.
Myth—Pulse dosing of antimicrobials is recommended for treatment of animals with periodontal disease.
Reality—Periodontal disease is an infectious, inflammatory, and often progressive disease process. As periodontal disease progresses, destruction of the periodontium often becomes extensive as a result of the interaction of pathogens, toxins, and host defense mechanisms. Periodontal disease has been described in 4 stages, which characterize gingivitis followed by an increasing severity of periodontitis and periodontal destruction. Stage 1 is considered reversible (ie, gingivitis) and does not involve bone loss. Stage 2 of periodontal disease involves periodontal bone loss of 0% to 25%. Stages 3 and 4 involve bone loss of 25% to 50% and > 50%, respectively. Microbial populations appear to become increasingly more pathogenic as the disease progresses and can be categorized as anaerobic, gram-negative bacteria with spirochetes. These organisms hide in deep pockets and can elude host immune defenses. Bacteria in plaque biofilm can be 1,500 times as resistant to antimicrobials, compared with susceptibility of the same bacteria in a monoculture.38
With increasing severity, periodontal disease is more difficult to treat. Pulse dosing of antimicrobials, such as clindamycin, has been advocated by some veterinarians, with anecdotal success. However, the authors were unable to find peer-reviewed scientific reports to support the use of this treatment. Concern has been expressed with regard to the potential for the development of antimicrobial-resistant pathogens as a result of pulse-dosing antimicrobial treatment because this technique is at odds with the principles of correct antimicrobial usage.41
Clindamycin is used for the treatment of humans with anaerobic infections.42 The most common mechanism of resistance is via rRNA methylases, and resistance has been reported42 for a number of aerobic gram-positive bacteria and aerobic and anaerobic gram-negative bacteria. In addition, cross-resistance to other lincosamides, macrolides, and streptogramins is possible.42 Clearly, research is needed to determine the benefits and risks of pulse dosing of antimicrobials.
Daily teeth brushing along with periodic professional cleaning and periodontal assessment are currently the most effective treatment strategy for periodontal disease. Pulse dosing of antimicrobials is not a longterm treatment strategy. Animals with extensive periodontitis may benefit from the use of clindamycin before anesthesia and periodontal treatment; however, anti microbials should never be used as a monotherapy.2
Myth—When planning treatment for maxillary or mandibular fractures resulting from trauma, teeth in the fracture line should always be extracted at the time of stabilization of the fracture.
Reality—It is common for an alveolus to be involved in a fracture line. The tooth involved may be luxated and loose. In those situations, it is preferable to remove the tooth. When there is still sufficient healthy periodontal attachment (as evidenced by the fact that the tooth is immobile), it is usually an indication to leave the tooth in place because it will contribute to stability of the fracture fixation. Leaving a tooth in the fracture line increases morbidity and, in particular, infectious complications, but the immediate removal of the tooth involved cannot reverse those effects.43,44 When rigid internal fixation is used in humans, teeth can be (and typically are) retained.45-47 When the apex of a tooth is involved in the fracture, the tooth will probably be devitalized, especially when located rostral to the fracture line. When a tooth involved in the fracture line is retained, it should be carefully monitored for subsequent evidence of periodontal or endodontal lesions and appropriate treatment should be instituted as soon as those conditions are recognized.48,49
In some animals, the tooth involved in a fracture line will be fractured. Again, an attending veterinarian has the discretion of whether to retain the tooth or remove it. However, deep crown-root fractures, root fractures, and comminuted fractures are indications for extraction.43
Myth—Intramedullary pins in the mandibular canal are an option for treatment of fractures of the mandibular body.
Reality—The term intramedullary pinning in reference to the body of the mandible is a misnomer because the mandible does not have a true medullary cavity.50 Review of the case reports51-54 describing intramedullary pinning revealed that the pins used in these animals were largely placed in the mandibular canal. The confined space within the mandibular canal is occupied by the inferior alveolar nerve, artery, and vein, and inserting a sizable pin in the canal will unavoidably cause damage to these neurovascular structures. A pin placed more dorsally in the body of the mandible will damage tooth roots, which occupy most of the dorsal two thirds of the mandible. Experimentally, inserting pins into the body of the mandible results in delayed healing and considerable damage to many tooth roots,55 whereas clinically, malalignment is a common complication.51,56 Therefore, this method cannot be recommended.57
Myth—The lower jaw consists of a left and right hemimandible.
Reality—All vertebrates have 2 mandibles, each of which develops separately.58,59 The 2 mandibles are joined on the rostral midline by the intermandibular joint, which can vary from an intermandibular suture that allows little movement to an intermandibular synchondrosis that consists primarily of cartilage.60 In domestic dogs and cats, the intermandibular joint consists of fibrocartilage, and hence, symphysis would appear to be the most appropriate term.61,62 Therefore, the jaw consists of a left and right mandible, rather than hemimandibles. The surgical removal of 1 mandible would be most correctly termed a unilateral mandibulectomy, rather than a hemimandibulectomy, which strictly speaking would refer to the excision of half of 1 mandible. Humans ontogenetically have 2 mandibles; however, the suture of the 2 mandibles ossifies at an early stage (end of the first postnatal year), which results in the 2 mandibles forming a single functional entity.63 Because of this, the term mandible to indicate the entire lower jaw is deeply entrenched in the human medical and lay literature.63,64
Myth—Coronectomy (often referred to as crown amputation in the veterinary literature) is always an acceptable treatment for cats whose teeth have resorptive lesions.
Reality—Tooth resorption continues to be one of the most common dental diseases affecting cats. Coronectomy with intentional root retention may be a suitable alternative to extraction in selected cats with resorptive lesions.65,66 Prior to performing this procedure, radiography must be performed to verify that the disease process is causing root resorption-replacement.65,67 Coronectomy allows for removal of the portion of a tooth that is causing pain to a patient and allows the resorption process to be completed without creating the potential complications of full root pulverization. The technique involves raising an envelope gingival flap, removal of the crown below the gingival margin, alveoloplasty to remove rough edges, and closure of the flap with absorbable sutures.13
Coronectomy is contraindicated in teeth with clearly demarcated roots and no radiographic signs of root resorption and also in animals with periodontal or endodontic disease. In the latter, coronectomy may be associated with long-term root retention and persistent periodontal or endodontic disease.65,67 Coronectomy is contraindicated in cats with chronic gingivostomatitis or infected with FeLV or FIV.13
Myth—A fractured tooth with vital pulp exposure (complicated fracture) is always treated with partial coronal pulpectomy and direct pulp capping (vital pulp therapy).
Reality—Vital pulp therapy has a relatively high success rate (88%) when the duration of pulp exposure is < 48 hours at the time of treatment. The longterm (> 1 year) success rate decreases with an increase in the interval between time of the fracture and time of treatment.68 In 1 study,69 all of the teeth treated with vital pulp therapy at > 7 days after pulp exposure were nonvital during follow-up examinations conducted 6 months to 6 years later. The optimal time for treatment of complicated fractures is during the first 24 hours after pulp exposure, when the pulp inflammation is superficial.29
Myth—Crown reduction of canine teeth in dogs, cats, and nonhuman primates (which is often referred to as disarming) is a safe and effective method to decrease bite wounds.
Reality—Crown reduction of canine teeth is often requested when there is a history of animal-to-animal aggression or animal-to-human aggression that has resulted in bite wounds. Crown reductions in canine teeth require endodontic treatment (vital pulp therapy or pulpectomy and restoration) at the time of crown reduction. In a study70 in primates, there was a 21% failure rate for crown reduction of canine teeth and vital pulp therapy performed under controlled and aseptic conditions. Failure leads to chronic inflammation and pulp necrosis.70
We are not aware of any controlled studies indicating that the types or frequencies of aggressive behaviors are diminished by crown reductions in any species. The AVMA is opposed to removal of healthy teeth of dogs as a treatment for aggression. This approach to managing aggression does not address the cause of the behavior. The welfare of a patient may be adversely affected because the animal is subjected to dental procedures that cause pain, are invasive, and do not address the behavioral problem. In addition, dogs may still cause severe injury with the remaining teeth, and removal or reduction of teeth may provide owners with a false sense of security. Preventing injuries and welfare of the dogs are best addressed through behavioral assessment and modification by a qualified veterinary behaviorist.71 Disarming is not a safe treatment method in nonhuman primates or an effective method of decreasing aggression in dogs and cats, nor is it approved by the AVMA.
Myth—Dentistry is an ancillary service veterinary practitioners provide for their patients.
Reality—An epidemiologic study1 conducted in 1995 at the University of Minnesota revealed that oral disease was the most common disease in all age groups of cats and dogs. In human medicine, periodontal disease causes increased insulin resistance, decreased glycemic control, cardiovascular disease, myocardial infarction, pneumonia, and other systemic diseases.26,72,73 There is now evidence that periodontal disease also affects the systemic health of veterinary patients. In 1 study,74 investigators detected a positive correlation between severity of periodontal disease and histologic changes in the kidneys, myocardium, and liver. In another studya of 38 dogs, it was concluded that periodontal disease leads to systemic inflammation that is significantly reduced with appropriate periodontal treatments. Concentrations of blood glucose and renal indices were also affected by severity of periodontal disease and periodontal treatment in that study.a In addition, there are case reports of insulin resistance in a dog with dental disease that responded after receiving treatment for the dental disease75 and morbidity in a cat with dental and periodontal infection.76
With the prevalence of oral disease and the evidence for the systemic effects on patient health, veterinary dentistry is a primary service that practitioners can provide as part of a general wellness program. Recognition and appropriate treatment of oral and dental disease in companion animals are important to overall patient well-being and comfort. It is the obligation of veterinary practitioners to provide the oral cavity with the same attentiveness that is given to the rest of the patient's body.
Rawlinson JE, Goldstein RE, Reiter AM, et al. Tracking systemic parameters in dogs with periodontal disease (abstr), in Proceedings. 19th Annu Vet Dental Forum 2005;429.
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Chang DT, Sandow PR & Morris CG, et al. Do pre-irradiation dental extractions reduce the risk of osteoradionecrosis of the mandible? Head Neck 2007;29:528–536.
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