Dentistry for veterinary nurses: what you can see in the consultation room

02 April 2022
3 mins read
Volume 13 · Issue 3
Figure 1. Abrasion of the premolars and plaque build up on the canines in a dog.


Registered veterinary nurses provide the tools for oral care, whether that be in the consulting room or in a dental suite. It is their job to make sure owners understand the importance of maintaining good oral hygiene to help their pet live a pain free life. This is done through dental clinics and being confident in the products and services being offered. Veterinary nurses can educate owners on the facts of dental disease and help them understand that most of the dental disease is below the gum line. It is also important to have sound knowledge on what normal looks like so that abnormalities can be detected.

Inadequate oral hygiene can lead to a plethora of health issues including, but not limited to, gingival recession, lesions, worn teeth, plaque (Figure 1) and tartar build up, gingivitis and stomatitis, pulp exposure and root abscesses. All of these can be very painful and are usually only addressed when an owner notices that their pet has stopped eating. The main cause of health issues comes from plaque deposits, with some animals, mainly cats, having reactions to the plaque build-up known as chronic stomatitis.

Deciduous teeth in the cat and dog begin to erupt within the first few weeks after birth, and their permanent teeth erupt to completion by around 4–7 months depending on breed. Persistent deciduous teeth cause lots of problems to permanent tooth eruption — there is not enough room in the mouth to hold both deciduous and permanent teeth. Displacement of adult teeth becomes apparent and can cause painful malocclusions where the tip of the tooth starts to penetrate the soft tissues/palate. This was discussed later in the workshop when discussing how to assess teeth in consultations, and the terminology used to gain client trust and compliance surrounding persistent deciduous teeth.

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