The ABCs of Veterinary Dentistry: When Waiting is Wishful Thinking

Jan Bellows, DVM, DAVDC, DABVP, FAVD

Sometimes waiting to perform treatment is the best course of action when a patient presents with dental concerns, as noted in the August issue of dvm360® (“The ABCs of veterinary dentistry: W is for waiting to treat”). But other times waiting is simply not an option—the patient’s problem needs to be addressed immediately.

Missing teeth

Dogs should have 42 permanent teeth, cats 30. If 1 or more teeth are not present clinically, it is time for detective work This involves examining intraoral radiographs to determine whether a tooth is present subgingivally and, if so, whether a pathologic process (periapical lucency) is at play that needs immediate care. Waiting to diagnose and treat can lead to progression of subgingival pathology in these patients (Fig. 1).

Persistent primary teeth

When a patient presents with persistent primary teeth—primary (baby) and secondary (adult) teeth present clinically in the same alveolus—immediate extraction of the primary tooth is indicated.

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