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Veterinary Dentistry Opens Wide

Sunday, December 16, 2007 General News J E 4
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SCHAUMBURG, Ill., Dec. 15 From eliminating pain toimproving an animal's overall well-being, pet dental health is gainingincreased attention these days.

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

"The days of clean-and-pull or watchful waiting in the case of fracturedteeth have been replaced by prevention, recognition, and treatment of dentaldisease and painful oral conditions," writes lead author Sharon Hoffman, DVM,a diplomate of the American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 ofthe body. Pets, she said, should receive an oral exam each time they visit theveterinarian.

"Recognition and appropriate treatment of oral and dental disease incompanion 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 dentalproblems. We know more than we did 20 years ago."

Advances in veterinary dentistry are helping dispel common misconceptionsabout what can and what should be treated, Hoffman said, including the ideathat a broken tooth is no big deal for a dog or cat. Fractured teeth in petsare 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 inpeople," Hoffman said. "Pets with fractured teeth will still eat, they willstill work, but they will do so in pain."

One of Hoffman's primary messages for pet owners is never to underestimatethe 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 causeof 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 awide variety of activities dedicated to advancing the science and art ofanimal, human and public health. Visit the AVMA Web site athttp://www.avma.org for more information.

SOURCE American Veterinary Medical Association
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