Veterinarians in Ontario now have a clear picture of what is expected of them in the delivery of veterinary dentistry.

After extensive consultation, the College of Veterinarians of Ontario (CVO) Council approved a revised Professional Practice Standard on Veterinary Dentistry.

“Dentistry is a complex area in the practice of veterinary medicine. The new standard provides increased clarity on the delivery of preventative oral care and dental treatment to animals. It is important that veterinarians and the public have clear guidance in what is necessary during the competent and safe performance of veterinary dentistry,” said Jan Robinson, Register and Chief Executive Officer at the College.

The College has long taken the position that veterinary dentistry includes every aspect of oral health care including cleaning, adjustment, filing, extraction or repair of teeth and treatment of or surgery to related structures.

“Only veterinarians may practise veterinary dentistry, as has been confirmed by the Ontario Superior Court of Justice which recently issued an Order requiring a non-veterinarian to stop practising anesthesia-free dentistry,” said Robinson. “Even dental hygiene can pose a serious risk to animals when performed by a non-veterinarian. College policies, such as this new standard, support the delivery of safe, competent veterinary care.”

One of the key areas of veterinary dentistry is assessment and diagnosis and dental x-rays are often a part of that assessment process. Although all veterinarians are not required to have dental x-ray equipment, the standard indicates it may be necessary to recommend the client obtain x-rays prior to treatment. The standard also identifies expectations surrounding delegating certain procedures to auxiliary staff; sedation and anesthesia; as well as dental charting.

“Council consulted the profession and the public extensively in preparing this standard and also reviewed complaint and discipline decisions related to veterinary dental services. The new standard supports the competent and safe performance of dentistry which is beneficial to the animals, the public and the veterinary profession,” said Robinson.

The College of Veterinarians of Ontario exists to protect and serve the public interest through the regulation of the practice of veterinary medicine. Accordingly, veterinarians are licensed, facilities are accredited, standards and policies are developed and maintained, and an investigations and resolutions process is available. The College licenses approximately 4,500 veterinarians and accredits over 2,100 facilities in Ontario.