Veterinary technician discusses pet dental health
Who we talked to
Shawn Browning, veterinary technician
Harbour Animal Hospital
286 Maple Ave.
Barrington, R. I.
Shawn Browning became a veterinary technician shortly after high school. "It was something I always wanted to pursue," he says. After 12 years in the field, Browning is continuing his education by studying wildlife biology at the University of Rhode Island.
Why is it important for pets to get regular dental care?
"Well, we offer services such as tooth extraction. Those are extreme procedures that we use when pets have a problem. But preventative care is what we really stress. Client compliance is fairly poor, and that's what leads to more extreme dental procedures."
What kinds of dental services do you offer?
"Dental prophylaxis, dental cleaning, hand scaling as well as ultrasonic scaling. We do assessments of the gums to make sure we don't have any recession or disease. We give ultrasonic polishing and extractions as needed. We treat any infections or lesions. If we see heavy buildup or gum or tooth disease we recommend dentistry procedures, which are done with general anaesthetics."
What do you do when you provide a general checkup and cleaning?
"These exams are full physical exams. We assess the full body. That includes a good oncology exam and dental exam. We assess it visually. It's more repetitious for our senior patients. We do it every six months because of the likelihood of problems arising. It's more likely with age. "
Are there any common warning signs that something may be wrong with your pet's teeth?
"A lot of what the owner can pick up at home is with sudden drooling. That can be a big sign of something wrong in the mouth. Other things we have them look for is how they're chewing. Are they avoiding chewing on one side? Swelling in and around the mouth can also be a good indication."
What can a pet owner do at home to keep their pet's teeth healthy?
"Brushing's the best thing they can do. If they're not comfortable with that, there are some medicated treats that can neutralize the bacteria in their mouth and scrap the plaque off. Really, the best thing is brushing. They also have rinses that kill the bacteria, but it doesn't remove any of the plaque. Ideally, if you start out with a kitten or puppy they get used to brushing just as they would getting their nails cut or ears cleaned."