Although primary care veterinarians perform routine dentistry daily, most did not receive in-depth training on the subject during veterinary school. To become a truly expert dental practitioner, you need advanced training and continuing education—and a great mentor doesn’t hurt. However, not every veterinarian seeks out or has the opportunity for this specialty training, and they may not feel comfortable handling complex cases.
Whether you have a strong interest in dentistry or would rather avoid these procedures altogether, some cases are beyond the scope of a general veterinarian. But, our skilled VESPECON dental consultants can provide specialist advice and guidance for those difficult cases or help veterinarians expand their knowledge and dental skills. Here are five ways consulting with a veterinary dentist can improve patient care.
#1: Get advice on your complex dentistry cases
With the current veterinary staff shortage and increasing demand for services, you likely see many cases each day, with many of them involving some degree of dental disease. You can handle routine periodontal care and extractions, but you may not be confident about handling the less common or the severe, complex cases. What is the best approach to full-mouth extractions in a stomatitis cat? Is that puppy developing a painful canine tooth malocclusion? Is a patient at higher risk for jaw fracture or other complications? A veterinary dentist consultation is a quick, effective way to get your questions answered so you can offer your clients the best course of action.
#2: Improve intra-oral radiograph interpretation
Sending your X-rays for radiologist interpretation has become standard in many practices, but dental radiographs must be interpreted quickly and correctly to avoid prolonged anesthesia. Our dental specialists are available when you need them, including during procedures, to help you interpret intraoral radiographs or guide you on taking them from a different angle for more information. You can also draw on the specialist’s extensive clinical experience to determine the best treatment options for your findings.
#3: Learn when to refer a patient and what to do if your client declines
Some cases require advanced skills or equipment available only through in-person dental specialist referral. Clients requesting procedures to restore teeth and avoid extraction are obvious referral candidates, but many other cases are less clear-cut. When you’re unsure about the best approach, a veterinary dentist can guide you on whether you should refer the case. If your client cannot afford a referral, wants more basic treatment, or lives hours away from the nearest dentist, a specialist will recommend in detail other treatment options you can handle.
#4: Expand your dentistry knowledge base and skill
Each time you consult with a VESPECON veterinary dentist, you’ll build your knowledge and skill base and be able to offer your patients better care. A consultant can also help you find relevant CE courses and wet labs that will teach new knowledge and skills, and you can provide more procedures and treatments that patients need.
#5: Reduce anesthesia times through better surgical planning
A specialist is the best resource to help you plan for complex procedures or complicated anesthesias. Veterinary dentists can advise you on handling lengthy procedures, so you are more efficient, which is especially important for high-risk anesthetic patients. They can also give you tips and tricks to improve your surgical techniques—further increasing your efficiency—and advise you when your patient would benefit from an in-person referral.
Our VESPECON consulting platform provides general practice veterinarians with access to consulting dentistry specialists for all your patients’ dental care needs. For complex anesthesia cases related to dentistry, our multi-disciplinary team also includes anesthesia, pain management, and critical care specialists who can collaborate to develop a pet’s safest individual plan.
We use a real-time video chat platform, which means you can connect face-to-face with our consultants and show them exactly what you see in your patient. You can also connect with a specialist during a dentistry procedure if you need help with complications, unexpected findings, or reading radiographs. If your patient needs an in-person referral, our concierge team will coordinate a visit with one of our local partners, taking the weight off the shoulders of your staff and the client.