The first set of global guidelines for veterinary dentistry
has been launched by the World Small Animal Veterinary Association to support veterinarians around the world in
improving recognition of dental disease and providing a
higher standard of dental care to patients.
The WSAVA says it hopes the guidelines will help to
bridge what it perceives as a significant gap in veterinary
education globally and to encourage a greater emphasis on
dentistry in the veterinary curriculum.
The ‘global dental guidelines’ 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 is also included, with
details of minimum equipment recommendations. A
key theme is the WSAVA’s rejection of anaesthesia-free
dentistry, which it describes as ineffective and a cause of
unnecessary stress and suffering to patients.
Dr Brook Niemiec, a board-certified specialist in veterinary dentistry of the American and European
Veterinary Dental Colleges and a fellow of the Academy of
Veterinary Dentistry, said: “Dental, oral and maxillofacial
diseases are, by far, the most common medical conditions
in small animal veterinary medicine.
“They cause significant pain, as well as localised 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
“Our committee members were also unanimous in their
opposition to anaesthesia-free dentistry. We believe that
anaesthesia is essential for the execution of any useful
dental procedure and this is a central recommendation of
the guidelines. To support it, we have provided a detailed
analysis of anaesthesia and pain management approaches.”