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Pet Dental Health: A Veterinary Technician’s Guide

Published on January 24, 2019 by A. Rothstein

Veterinary technician providing pet dental examinationA lot of dog and cat owners don’t realize how critical good dental care is for their pets and don’t usually schedule a dental exam until their pet’s breath is bad. Although many pet dental procedures require anesthesia, the result will be clean teeth and gums. Proper care of your pet’s teeth and gums could prevent major oral surgery later in life.

Veterinarian technicians who care for pet’s teeth may work in a variety of settings. They must complete a veterinary technician program before specializing in dentistry for pets. May vet techs work in animal hospitals and clinics, while others may work in animal sanctuaries or zoos.

Duties of A Veterinary Technician During Pet Dental Procedures

The duties of veterinary technicians who specialize in the oral care of pets includes:

Veterinary technicians that specialize as a dentistry assistant for animals will do examinations and help to diagnose medical problems. The veterinary technician can advise pet owners about how important oral care for their pets is in preventing serious diseases like liver, heart or kidney failure. Many of the responsibilities that come with the job can save the lives of animals.

Veterinary technicians that specialize in animal’s oral health may assist the veterinarian in removing cancerous cells from the mouth. They may have to repair broken teeth or fractured jaws and know the procedures for taking care of orthodontic problems. Replacing crowns in an animal’s mouth and performing root canals are among the duties of these veterinary technicians.

Proper Pet Dental Cleanings

In the wild, animals don’t have a lot of problems keeping their teeth clean. Natural resources around them especially their prey, keep their teeth and gums healthy. Domesticated pets, especially those that are indoors all the time, need more assistance in keeping their teeth and gums clean.

The American Veterinary Medical Association states that periodontal disease is one of the most common oral health problems in cats and dogs. Addressing this problem in the early stage is essential because when it gets to the advanced stage, it can affect a pet’s internal organs.

The way to keep cat’s and dog’s teeth clean is to brush them on a regular basis. Canine and feline toothbrushes and toothpaste are available to make cleaning easy. Many of the toothpastes are flavored, which is helpful for pets that are resistant to having their teeth and gums cleaned.

Brushing A Dog’s Teeth

Choose a spot that’s free of distractions for your dog. You should choose a room in your home that has excellent lighting. Begin by touching your dog’s mouth. Then lift his upper lip and touch the teeth. Always praise your dog during the process for behaving well. Repeat by touching the lower lip and then the teeth. Keep praising your dog for good behavior. Dogs want to please their owners and respond when they know they’re doing a good job.

The next step is to take a little bit of toothpaste for dogs, put it on our finger and allow your dog to sniff it and lick it off your finger. Lift your dog’s upper lip and gently brush the front teeth. Praise your dog while you’re cleaning.

Continue to brush your dog’s teeth and move to the sides and then the back. Praise your dog when he does a good job. Hold open the bottom lip and repeat the process with the bottom teeth, always praising your dog for good behavior.

While you’re brushing your dog’s teeth, watch for signs of mood changes. If your dog seems to be in pain, is uncomfortable, or fearful, don’t continue. You want this to be positive and not traumatic. Praise your dog and offer a treat when you’re finished brushing their teeth.

Brushing A Cat’s Teeth

Some cat owners aren’t sure if they can brush their cat’s teeth, but cats need care for their teeth and gums as much as dogs do. It may be a simple task to brush your cat’s teeth, or it could be a long process that requires a lot of patience on the part of the owner. A lot of it depends on the cat’s personality. The process is very much the same as it is for a dog.

A pet owner will need toothbrushes or sponges for cat’s teeth and toothpaste. Place a small amount of toothpaste on the brush or sponge and allow your cat to lick or sniff the toothpaste to get accustomed to the taste. You should brush your cat’s teeth in a quiet place where there aren’t any distractions.

Lift the cat’s upper lip and brush the teeth and gums in the front, using a gentle motion. Praise your cat for cooperating, workaround to the sides and back of the upper teeth and gums. Tartar is more likely to form on cat’s molars in the back. A lot of cats don’t like this area of their mouth to be touched but if your cat allows it, use a gentle motion to clean the back of the teeth. If your cat becomes upset or in pain, stop right away.

Brushing pet’s teeth each day may reduce incidents of oral disease. Brushing and offering healthy treats that encourage chewing can help to improve the condition of pet’s teeth and gums. Your veterinarian should examine their teeth as part of the regular exam to improve their health and oral hygiene.

Clean Teeth Treats

One way to ensure your pet’s dental health is to offer them healthy treats that clean their teeth and gums, giving them fresh breath. One reason dogs and cats love treats is because they’re available in flavors that they love including chicken, peanut butter, or beef. When you’re buying treats, make sure to buy the types that are specific to cats or dogs because they have different nutritional needs.

The benefits of treats to keep dogs and cats’ teeth clean and breath fresh includes a texture that helps to clean teeth while they’re chewing. The treats are made in shapes that get into small spaces between teeth and gums to rid these areas of plaque. Natural ingredients without added artificial colors or flavors are easy on pet’s digestive systems.

Periodic Dental Cleaning

One of the best things any pet owner can do for their dog or cat is to have regular visits with their veterinarian to have their pet’s teeth and gums checked to make sure they’re healthy. When plaque gets on pet’s teeth, it can get hard and turn into tartar which gets in between the teeth and gums. When bacteria and bits of food get into these spaces, they can cause oral diseases.

Regular cleaning of pet’s teeth and gums can help to substantially decrease the risk of causing pain and developing problems. The factors that play a role in whether a cat or dog develops a disease are the breed, background, age of the pet, and how their immune system responds to bacteria.

Deteriorating Dental Health

A lot of pet dental problems begin with the teeth and gums. Professional cleanings are essential even for young pets. Deteriorating oral health including inflamed gums and infected teeth may cause serious health issues. If a pet is suffering from a disease of the teeth or gums, it’s essential to follow the recommendations of your veterinarian. Techniques for caring for pets with damaged teeth may include oral surgery or tooth extractions.

Veterinarians inject pain medication during these procedures, so your pet isn’t in a lot of pain during the recovery process. Oral pain medications are sent home with your pet to ease their discomfort. Once they’ve healed, they can go back to eating regular food and enjoying treats.

Did learning about pet dental health interest you? Ready to start a program to become a veterinary technician? With an associate degree in veterinary technology, you’ll gain the knowledge and skills you need to start an entry-level career as a veterinary technician. Broadview University has been part of the community for more than 40 years, so we’ve developed connections that can help move your career forward. After completing our accredited degree program, you’ll be eligible to sit for the Veterinary Technician National Exam (VTNE). Passing the VTNE allows you to become a Certified Veterinary Technician (CVT), a designation that will give you a competitive advantage when you enter the job market.

Contact us today to learn more about becoming a veterinary technician and working in veterinary technology.

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