I often hear veterinarians and veterinary staff explain that is can be very difficult to convince a pet owner of the value of a dental procedure. Wouldn’t it be great to have a diagnostic test that takes only seconds to run and can detect the presence of pathologic bacteria that reside in the periodontal pockets the pet’s mouth.
How do you get the pet owner on board? There are many options such as pictures of horrible mouths, explaining that not treating can lead to systemic infections in the animal, and other tactics but a definitive test that could show the pet owner that there is pathologic bacteria present in their pet’s mouth may do the trick? A test similar to a heartworm test that can give the owner a positive, non biased result. The test would help the veterinary staff with the owners because now it is not just their opinion that the animal needs a dental procedure but a positive test, performed in front of the owner that shows the bacteria or infection is present. When the test is incorporated into each wellness visit, clinics have seen dramatic increases in their dental procedures. This magical diagnostic test does exist!!!
The Orastrip® test strip detects thiols that are produced by the pathologic bacteria that are present in periodontal pockets. This strip is very sensitive and may detect a single pocket that cannot be detected during a quick oral exam in an awake patient. Imagine the teeth are icebergs and only a small portion is visible but the majority of the tooth is hidden below the gumline. We can’t see what’s happening below the gumline and a periodontal pocket on a palatal aspect of a maxillary molar would not be visible during the exam in the awake patient. By using the strip in each wellness visit, clinics show the pet owner that an infection is present and treatment needs to be given to prevent tooth loss and/or systemic infections. Also, the clinic could perform more Stage 1 and 2 periodontal procedures, saving the pet owner money, less anesthesia time for the patient, quicker dental procedures for the staff and ultimately more procedures for the clinic and better health for the pet.
Thiols are produced by the gram negative, black pigmenting pathologic bacteria that are present in periodontal pockets. The pad on the Orastrip® is gently run along the gingival margin of the maxillary teeth. If thiols are present the pad will change color and the degree of color change corresponds to the amount of thiols present in the mouth. An Orastrip result of 2 indicates that there is an 82% chance that disease is present along with a 53% chance of bone loss present. Once the score reaches a 3 or higher the chance of disease being present is 97% with a 92% chance that bone loss is present. The test score does not necessarily correspond to the stage of periodontal disease but instead is an indicator that the pathologic bacteria are present.
Change is Hard!!! I understand that this is yet another thing to try to squeeze into a short appointment time. This test can be completed and explained by the veterinary technician saving time for the veterinarian. We all want to do what is the in the best interest of our patients, adding this simple test can be a huge benefit for the pet and for your veterinary practice.
Remember, talk about dentistry for every patient at every visit!!