Geriatric Veterinary Dentistry: How old is too old to make it right?


Jan Bellows, DVM, DAVDC, DABVP, FAVD

Pediatric and adolescent companion animal dentistry focuses largely on the diagnosis and treatment of congenital and developmental oral issues, including persistent and retained deciduous teeth, supernumerary teeth, orthodontic malpositions, and malocclusions. Mature canine and feline dentistry deals primarily with fractured teeth, tooth resorption, and periodontal disease (PD) prevention.

Senior dental problems center around moderate to advanced PD and both benign and malignant oral masses. In addition, the veterinarian and staff must be comfortable tailoring anaesthesia to the individual patient, with attention to concurrent conditions, as well as diligent monitoring during and after procedures.

Periodontal disease in senior patients

The degree of PD severity relates to a single tooth. It is important to keep in mind that a patient may have teeth with different stages of PD. Typically, geriatric dental patients have multiple stages of PD occurring simultaneously. Therefore, intraoral imaging is essential, along with probing to determine the tooth’s support. Treatment options for PD include:

  • Dental scaling and polishing for patients with stage-1 PD
  • Root planing and locally applied antimicrobials for pockets less than 5 mm in patients with stage-2 PD.
  • Extraction for teeth affected by advanced PD and those with moderate PD for which the owner cannot perform adequate home care (Figures 1 and 2).

 

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