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WSAVA unveils first global veterinary dentistry guidelines

Organization rejects anesthesia-free procedures, addresses patient pain

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To support veterinarians around the world in improving recognition of dental disease and providing greater dental care to patients, the World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA) launched global veterinary dentistry guidelines.

WSAVA hopes the guidelines will help bridge what it perceives as a significant gap in veterinary education globally and to encourage a greater emphasis on dentistry in the veterinary curriculum, according to the organization.

WSAVA’s Global Dental Guidelines, launched during its World Congress in Copenhagen, include information and images of oral anatomy and common pathology, as well as best-practice recommendations for oral examinations and an easily implementable dental health scoring system. Evidence-based guidance on periodontal therapy, radiology, and dental extractions also is included, together with details of minimum equipment recommendations.

A key theme is WSAVA’s rejection of anesthesia-free dentistry, which it describes as ineffective and a cause of unnecessary stress and suffering to patients.

“Dental, oral, and maxillofacial diseases are, by far, the most common medical conditions in small animal veterinary medicine,” said Brook Niemiec, DVM, DAVDC, co-chair of the WSAVA Dental Guidelines Committee.

“They cause significant pain, as well as localized and potentially systemic infection but— because pets rarely show outward signs of disease—treatment is often delayed or not performed with a corresponding impact on the welfare of the patient. In developing the Global Dental Guidelines, we felt that the lack of perception of patient pain was a key issue.”

Patients are not well served by the current variation in standards of care, level of equipment, and procedural knowledge of dentistry, Dr. Niemiec added.

“Misinformation that clouds the sector is a further hindrance,” he said. “As clinicians, we cannot allow a fear of the unknown, the discomfort of client pushback, or ignorance of current techniques to keep us from doing our best to relieve pain and suffering in our patients.”

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