You would be surprised at the amount of people who ask if a dentist can treat animals, and whilst the answer is yes, it is slightly more complex than that. You can’t just book your dog in at a practice!
The first thing to note is that there a many dental specialties and a veterinary dentist is just one of them. Even animals require the need of a qualified dentist, from regular check-ups through to dental treatments (exactly the same as we humans require).
So what makes a veterinary dentist different to a dentist that you visit?
The first is that a veterinary dentist has trained in the specialism of taking care of animals, so they will have knowledge of animal anatomy, pharmacology, anesthesiology, pathology, physiology, neurology and radiology – among many other medical specialties. They have a clear understanding not only of animal behaviour, but also their complete anatomy. You can venture further into this by comparing your general pet dentists to those that treat animals within zoos or on African reserves. For example, a dentist who treats the teeth of lions (as pictured in our header image here) will most likely have spent time as a volunteer with lions to enable them to get up close and personal and to help better understand their behaviour. Similar to human dentists, they treat conditions such as jaw fractures, malocclusions, oral cancer, periodontal disease, and stomatitis.
Remember, animals can’t speak, they can’t tell you if they feel pain or not. This makes things a little trickier! With humans your local dentist can ask when you feel pain, ask when you feel numb and adjust things accordingly. We recently penned an article on overcoming your fears of a dentist as well, which is worth a read!
Thus, a typical dentist and a veterinary dentist have trained, and are educated in two different areas.
Do animals have the same issues/diseases as humans?
To an extent yes, there are certainly cross-overs and similarities in oral problems. For example, such signs include:
Broken or discoloured teeth
Changes in eating behaviour
Rubbing or pawing at the face
Bleeding from the mouth
Inability or unwillingness to open or close the mouth
Change in temperament
You’ll notice that several of these are also relatable to humans.
Therefore, if you have pets that require a visit to the dentist you should first look at the vet that it is registered under as this is where veterinary dentists will help check, treat and advise on maintenance plans for your pet.
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