Veterinary medicine is regulated by state agencies, and each state maintains its own minimum regulations. Although AAHA-accreditation is voluntary, AAHA is the only organization in the US and Canada that accredits small animal hospitals based on standards that go above and beyond state regulations. The AAHA Standards of Accreditation include more than 900 individual standards, divided into 19 major sections including dentistry.
Dental care of dogs and cats is one of the most commonly overlooked areas of pet health care; however, it is necessary to provide optimum health and quality of life. Diseases of the oral cavity, if left untreated, are often painful and can lead to more serious health problems including heart, lung and kidney disease.
There are two critical components of your pet’s veterinary dental care: oral examinations and dental cleanings. Veterinary dental care begins at the puppy and kitten life stage. As your pet ages, your veterinarian will look for developmental anomalies, the accumulation of plaque and tartar, periodontal disease and oral tumors. Veterinarians can perform a basic oral examination on patients that are awake. However, when a cleaning is required, your pet will need to be induced under general anesthesia wherein a thorough examination will be done prior to the cleaning. Dental cleanings performed while your pet is awake is not only dangerous for the team member performing the cleaning but dangerous to your pet as well.
Since there is an element of risk associated with any medical procedure, it is important that safety precautions are used. Among the many standards in the dentistry section, AAHA accreditation requires that veterinarians perform thorough examinations of the teeth and structures of the oral cavity in patients presented for dental procedures and only properly trained practice team members perform dental procedures. Additionally, AAHA Standards recommend that dental procedures are accompanied by pain assessment and appropriate pain treatment.
The Standards, developed and published by AAHA, are widely accepted as representing those components of veterinary practice that represent high quality pet care. The Standards are periodically reviewed and updated by a committee of experts and practitioners to ensure that they remain consistent with evolving veterinary knowledge and technology.