AVMA Position on Veterinary Dentistry

Comment on this policy

The performance of dentistry on animals is part of the practice of veterinary medicine and is regarded as such under state veterinary practice acts. Veterinary dentistry includes the cleaning, adjustment, filing, extraction, or repair of animals' teeth, and all other aspects of oral health care in animals. Veterinary dentistry is a function of veterinary practice because it requires diagnosis and treatment, and, to be fully effective, demands extensive knowledge of anatomy, anesthesiology, pharmacology, physiology, pathology, radiology, neurology, medicine, and surgery that is part of the graduate veterinarian's training. Veterinary health care workers may be allowed to perform certain dental procedures as directed under the supervision of a licensed veterinarian in accordance with state regulations.

Supporting Statements

  • Veterinary dentistry is an invasive practice that can have a profound impact on animal health.
  • Graduate veterinarians receive adequate training in dentistry as part of the core curriculum of colleges of veterinary medicine.
  • Veterinarians are uniquely qualified to diagnose, by physical examination and use of diagnostics, to address unexpected conditions or complications discovered during dental examinations and procedures, and to prescribe follow-up care.
  • The practice of veterinary dentistry is dependent on correct diagnosis of dental disease as well as the recognition of other serious diseases that can mimic dental problems in animals. These include, but are not limited to, zoonotic (e.g., rabies) and reportable (e.g., vesicular stomatitis) diseases.
  • Sedatives, tranquilizers, anesthetics, or analgesics are commonly used during veterinary dental procedures to provide restraint and reduce animal pain and suffering. Federal law restricts such veterinary prescription drugs for use by, or on the order of, a licensed veterinarian to ensure their safe and effective use.
  • The field of veterinary dentistry is advanced through the conduct of clinical and experimental dental research. Veterinarians receive and apply this information to benefit their patients.
  • Veterinary state boards and state veterinary practice acts exist to establish veterinarian accountability and provide clients with an acceptable standard of care.

 

Concluding Statements

The practice of veterinary dentistry should, therefore, be performed by veterinarians in accordance with their state veterinary practice acts. Veterinary health care workers may be allowed to perform certain dental procedures as directed under the supervision of a licensed veterinarian in accordance with state regulations.
As with other areas of veterinary practice, veterinary dentistry requires a veterinarian-client-patient relationship to protect the health, safety, and welfare of animals.