New guidelines for veterinary dentistry worldwide

A set of guidelines being developed by the World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA) aims to enhance standards of veterinary dentistry around the world.

In doing so, the WSAVA intends to bridge what it perceives as a significant gap in veterinary education and to enhance the level of veterinary care provided to companion animals.

“Oral and dental disease are, by far, the most common medical conditions in small animal veterinary medicine,” said Dr Brook Niemiec, chair of the WSAVA Dental Guidelines Committee

“These conditions create significant pain and infection within the oral cavity, as well as the entire body—but because pets rarely show outward signs of disease, treatment is often delayed or not performed at all.”

In addition to the problem of a lack of perceived pain, dental education in the veterinary curriculum is limited, and it is a subject clouded by myths and misinformation, said Dr Niemiec adding that WSAVA’s goal is to raise awareness of just how common dental disease is in small animals, and to highlight the local and systemic consequences if it is left untreated. The association also hopes to improve dental education internationally and to promote the importance of veterinary dentistry.

“The WSAVA Global Dental Guidelines will set the ‘gold standard’ to which all veterinarians should aspire—but we will also suggest minimum standards of equipment and care for veterinarians in parts of the world where companion animal practice is still developing,” said Dr Niemiec.

Part of the project is a plan to develop a simple, objective way to score oral disease in a repeatable fashion and to create educational resources, tools and continuing education for WSAVA members.

Dr Niemiec concluded: “It is our firm intent that the WSAVA Global Dental Guidelines will be the first step in changing the way that dental disease is perceived in the veterinary profession and in improving dental treatment in companion animals worldwide.”

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