A veterinary dentist is a veterinary professional who specializes in the oral needs of animals.
This includes providing diagnosis and treatment for diseases affecting the oral cavity, the maxillofacial region, and its associated structures as it relates to animals. A healthy mouth depends on healthy teeth. Healthy and strong teeth not only help an animal to chew and eat comfortably, it may also reduce the risk of certain brain conditions caused by pathogens that travel along the nerves connecting the oral cavity to the brain. As a specialist in animal oral hygiene, you can help in the effort to spread dental care awareness and the importance it plays in an animal’s life.
Want to know more about how to become a vet dentist? Read on to find out!
Veterinary dentistry is the field of dentistry applied to the care of animals. It is the art and science of prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of conditions, diseases, and disorders of the oral cavity, the maxillofacial region, and its associated structures as it relates to animals.
A veterinary dentist specializes in procedures that include, but are not limited, to:
• Oral and maxillofacial radiology
• Oral and maxillofacial surgery
• Oral medicine
Similar with human dentists, vet dentists also treat conditions such as jaw fractures, malocclusions, oral cancer, periodontal disease, stomatitis, and other disorders unique to veterinary medicine such as feline odontoclastic resorptive lesions.
The only difference is that general anaesthesia is usually involved due to the need to restrain pets undergoing delicate dental procedures.
To become a doctor of veterinary dentistry, one must first be accepted to an accredited veterinary school in order to complete their Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree. Hopeful students who wish to specialize in dentistry would need to take exams that will provide the necessary certification needed to pursue a doctorate in veterinary dentistry. The essential exams required are the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) and the Veterinary College Admission Test (VCAT) or Medical College Medicine Admission Test (MCAT). In addition to graduating and becoming board-certified, veterinarians must then complete a 3 to 4 year residency program.
It is strongly advised for an aspiring veterinary dentist to perform well on these exams and maintain good grades throughout the academic program. This is due to the fact that the field of veterinary dentistry is highly competitive; thus, perseverance and hard work is needed to become successful in this profession.
A report made by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) in 2010 states that veterinarians have a median annual salary of $82,900. The lowest paid ten percent of all veterinarians earned a salary of a $50,480 each year, while the highest paid ten percent of all veterinarians earned a salary of over $141,680 each year. Veterinary dentistry is one of the 20 specialties recognized by the American Veterinary Medical Association. Thus, a board-certified veterinary dentist would belong in that top tier of the compensation scale, especially when working in metropolitan areas where they tend to more clients and earn higher salaries.
The advancement in veterinary medicine has made the profession much more effecient in recent years. Malignant tumors in the oral cavity can now be easily detected and removed through specialized dental instruments. The public’s rising awareness of dental hygiene in animals has also shown to have reduced the number of health complications that result from brittle and decaying teeth. As a veterinary dentist, you can work with both small and large animals in private practice. You can also choose to work in big hospitals, for the academe, or in the field of research.
Whichever industry you ultimately decide to work for, it is your duty to accurately diagnose and treat oral infections, as well as device methods in order to prevent those infections from recurring again.
You will also be responsible in educating pet owners, especially those living in rural areas, about the importance of dental hygiene and how a healthy mouth can help reduce health complications in animals. For the compassionate and driven individual, there is no greater reward than improving an animal’s quality of life.