When to Refer

If your veterinary education was anything like mine we realize that within our formal veterinary training we were not properly taught how to recognize and diagnose, document and chart, formulate and carry out an effective treatment plan for the wide variety of dental and oral pathology we are all faced with on almost a daily basis. Because of this educational void we were also left unaware of the significance of not directing our clients to seek immediate and appropriate care for their pet once we did locate any pathology. I realize this because in the initial years following my graduation from veterinary school I was in this exact situation.

It is only through extensive continuing education and seeking mentoring in veterinary dentistry that this short coming in our basic education can be rectified. This is easy to say but as we also know our profession is burgeoning in many areas of specialization with new knowledge and treatments arising so rapidly, we all soon realize it is virtually impossible to remain current on all aspects of veterinary medicine and surgery, even for the recent graduate. Through many years of education and promotion from the human dental profession, our clients are more savvy about their own oral health care and expect the same for their pets. In an effort to become an extension of your own practice, augmenting your ability to manage more difficult oral pathology, the following quick reference guide can be used to assist you in determining when a referral to a dental practice may be indicated.

  • Any fractured teeth, especially if pulpal exposure is present.
    These teeth can not be ignored as advancing pathology is the sequela.
  • Discolored teeth. Most of these involve nonvital pulp which also lead toward advancing pathology.
  • Periodontal disease- including mobile teeth, gingival recession, periodontal pocketing, furcation exposure, gingival hyperplasia. These conditions also lead toward advancing oral and systemic pathology if not properly managed.
  • Malocclusions, especially those causing trauma of dental and/or soft tissue.
    Included here are primary (deciduous) teeth retension.
  • Any facial or jaw swelling or oral neoplasia. Even benign masses can become recurrent if not properly excised.
  • Oronasal fistulas. Some of these are the sequela to advanced periodontal disease.
  • Oral trauma, jaw fractures, tooth avulsion.
  • Feline Stomatitis
  • Canine Stomatitis
  • Feline odontoclastic resportive lesions (FORLs)
    These are painful and need to be properly extracted. (complicated extraction)
  • Complicated and/or multiple extractions.
  • Any enamel lesions- abrasion (worn teeth), hypoplasia, resorption, other defects.
  • Dysphagia, especially in rabbits and other pocket pets.

Photos of the above listed conditions can be seen here.

Anytime you have a question about an abnormality involving the oral cavity, call us.