Because he was a student until recently, the American Veterinary Medical Association annual continuing education meeting was extremely inexpensive. I was already sending people to the conference, so the hotel and travel was covered. That meant Rusty could go to the conference. While at the conference, Rusty decided to attend some lectures on dentistry. He came back with a passion for dentistry.
Because I had signed up to take a advanced dentistry course online, I had decided to become certified in advanced dentistry. Not to become a board certified specialist, but to study and take an advanced exam. The first step was to take the two day dental wet lab.
Because of Rusty’s passion, I offered to take him to the dental workshop in Orlando. I was going for the advanced extraction wet lab and he would take the advanced technician training.
Because he was going to the wet lab, we decided to let him practice a dental cleaning on one of my dogs, Ryker. Unfortunately, Ryker was not quite asleep enough and bit the sensor plate for the digital dental radiographs.
Because the sensor was broken, we had to replace it. This was expensive and we did a bit of research and sought out the recommendations of our specialists mentors.
Because we had a new ten-thousand dollar sensor, our radiographs were cleared and better than before. They were easier to manipulate and to see all of the teeth.
Because I was at the wet lab, I got new lighted loupes to allow me to see better.
Because we were doing a better job by being more aggressive on tooth care and extractions, owners were happier.
Because these owners were seeing such an improvement, Rusty brought his Willow in a few months ago for a routine dental cleaning. She is a sweet little schnauzer that was about six years old. Willow had a dental cleaning about a year ago before her dad came to work for me, but her breath had remained bad even after the dental cleaning.
Of course, we say “dentals” around the office and they include a lot more than cleaning. There is pre-surgery exam and blood work, anesthesia and monitoring, complete oral exam, dental radiographs, dental cleaning, extractions, repairs, treatments and sealants.
Because we were doing more and I was committed to doing better, I researched and purchased a new dental machine. The one we got was custom made for us, with two separate high speed drills, ultrasonic cleaner, bonding curing light, suction, spray and polisher. It is amazing!
Willow was under anesthesia when I did her oral exam. Her teeth had some tartar on them, but didn’t look or feel too bad. I did not expect any problems on her radiographs.
I was wrong.
One of the molars had been so infected that it had eaten a pocket of bone away. This pocket had been growing for a while. Now Willow had a complete fracture of her jaw. We cleaned and removed some other teeth that were bad and got a quick text consult from my specialist mentor. He advised to refer the fractured jaw.
Because Rusty had been to the class, he trusted the specialist enough to drive from here to Atlanta to get Willow’s jaw fixed. The specialist said that it probably had been broken since the dental a year ago at the prior vet and if they had done dental radiographs, they would have seen it. He felt strongly enough about it to call the other hospital.
Because she went to the specialist, Willow got the fragments wired together. The jaw was too far gone to totally heal, but it has a fibrous union that is not painful. The other side is fixed and healing. Rusty is now a strong advocate for routine dental cleaning and care.
Because of all of these things we are getting more confident at recommending more dentistry. I met some new clients today. They had been to another vet a few days before. They said their dog had a fractured tooth, but had been sent home after a few hours without any treatment. The two halves of the tooth fit together perfectly and the fracture was hard to see. But when I put my finger on it, it opened the wide crack. I explained how easy it would have been to miss, but how obvious it would be on dental radiographs. Buffy has some pain meds and antibiotics on board while we fix a few of her other problems.
I think we would have found the fracture on Willow or the fractured tooth on Buffy before all this happened. And it would be hard to say when these sequences took on a flow that would continue without being pushed, but this particular series of sequences have been good for us.