Veterinary Technicians and Dental Cleaning

A veterinary technician dental cleaning is great for companion animals. Don’t you just love the feeling of your teeth after a dental cleaning? Those nice and smooth pearly whites to show off to everyone? Well why shouldn’t companion animals have the same opportunity? Guess what, they do! Dental cleanings are a common procedure in most veterinary hospitals and rely heavily on the veterinary technician. There are even some veterinary hospitals that exclusively work in the dentistry aspect of veterinary medicine. Routine dental cleanings are important for companion animals to maintain healthy teeth and gums. Dental disease can lead to a variety of problems from facial abcesses to heart conditions. Veterinary technicians have the very rewarding duty of cleaning the teeth. Think of it as being a dental hygienist that cleans your teeth before the dentist examines your mouth.

The vet tech provides a central roll in the dental cleaning. It all starts with the preoperative exam where the veterinarian checks over the patient to make sure that the patient can handle the anesthetic. The vet tech helps to place an IV catheter as well as incubate the patient. Once the patient has been induced with anesthetic drugs, the veterinary technician is responsible for hooking the patient up to the anesthetic machine as well as monitoring equipment. During the procedure the vet tech is responsible for monitoring the anesthesia as well as the patients vitals (the veterinarian will often help to monitor as well). Most hospitals require that a patients vitals be taken at certain intervals and charted on a graph that will be kept with the patients dental records in the chart. The monitoring time can very, but usually the patients vitals should be taken at least every 5 minutes. The vitals include heart rate, breathing rate, oxygen level, blood pressure, temperature, capillary response time, and mucous membrane color. That is a lot of vitals! But it is important for the vet tech to monitor the patient for any abnormalities. It may also be the veterinary technicians duty to monitor the anesthetic level as well as IV fluid rate based on the patients vitals.

Now to the fun part! There is nothing more rewarding than removing the first big chunk of dental calculus (hardened plaque). Companion animals tend to build a large amount of calculus if the owner does not regularly clean the patients teeth or use dental treats. The veterinary technician will use a ultrasonic scaler to remove tarter from the teeth. After removing the tarter with the ultrasonic scaler the vet tech may need to also perform hand scaling with a dental instrument to be sure that all tarter is removed. The veterinary technician or veterinarian may also do subgingival scaling or root planing. Once all of the tartar is removed, the vet technician will check all teeth for any root pockets, furcation exposure, enamel defects, and any other abnormalities in the mouth. It is up to the vet tech to chart all teeth and any abnormalities for reference in future dental procedures. If the veterinary technician notices any abnormalities in a tooth, the veterinarian may decide that the tooth should be extracted. While the veterinarian is prepping for the extraction, the vet tech may be required to call the owner and discuss the potential extraction and the costs associated with it.

So for a veterinary technician, that is the basic dental procedure. There may be additional more advanced steps taken by the veterinarian depending on the severity of dental disease. I for one find a dental cleaning to be one of the most fun aspects of being a veterinary technician. Keep in mind that it is also the veterinary technicians duty to educate the client about dental products that can help to prevent the advancement of dental disease, for example using pet safe toothpaste and brushing daily. Also the client needs to know that there are dental treats available that help to keep the teeth clean and tartar free. By educating the client on the importance of oral health in pets, you are really helping to keep the pet as healthy as possible. And that is the overall goal of a vet tech!

Roles and Duties of a Veterinary Technician

What are the roles and duties of a veterinary technician? Below, that is exactly what we will be looking into. We will be looking into what role a vet tech plays in a vet office after they have gained the required education and earned their state license.

Pet owners have an extremely high expectation about what veterinary practices should and can do to keep their pets healthy. Even with the recent economic hard times, there has been a growing demand for vet services in past years. In response to this growing demand, many practices are employing more and more skilled, experienced vet techs to provide professional support.

90% of veterinary technicians work for private vet offices. Because this is the primary place of employment, the assigned duties within a vet office are the ones we will be talking about primarily those duties.

A quick summary of a duties are performing routine tasks such as laboratory, clinical procedures and after care. All tasks are always performed under the supervision of the vet, who is ultimately responsible for everything the technician does. The easiest way to explain to anyone what a vet tech does is that they play the role of what a nurse plays to a doctor.

Every veterinary practice is different with the technician’s duties being varied and many. Here is a brief list of what a vet tech’s responsibilities could be:

  • Cutting the hair of the animals
  • Clipping nails and claws of the animals.
  • Training and mentoring new members of the vet tech team
  • Providing the ongoing care for any animals recovering from surgery and/or treatment.
  • Prescribing and administering medicines, vaccines, and treatments.
  • Maintaining a sterile and safe environment. This involves, but is not limited to cleaning out the mess left by animals in kennels, examination rooms and animal holding areas.
  • Providing advice to pet owners on their pet’s health or nutrition
  • Providing emergency first aid.
  • Vet techs also conduct a lot of lab work. This can include conducting blood tests, urine tests and feces tests. These tests enable the vet to diagnose animal illnesses.
  • Ensuring that all equipment in the office is properly maintained and sterilized.
  • Undertaking dental work such as cleaning, or extracting teeth.
  • Providing anesthesia to animals before surgery.
  • Using x-ray and other radiological equipment
  • Assisting the vet in physical examinations of animals. Such as: restraining animals when necessary, taking the temperature of animals, and providing vet with supplies.
  • Maintaining current and organized laboratory, research, and treatment records.
  • Prepping the animals ready for surgery, such as by shaving parts of the animal in preparation for treatment.
  • Preparing and labeling samples for laboratory testing.
  • Ensuring that instruments are sterilized and the examination rooms are clean and ready for use

As a veterinary technician, you’re not just limited to working in a veterinary office. For individuals who have completed the four year Bachelor of Science qualification, they can also work in colleges, universities and professional schools. These positions focus more on laboratory work and scientific analysis. This work involves, but is not limited to; taking blood and urine samples, cross checking records of animal histories, analyzing samples in laboratories by using microscopic equipment.

Private industries, such as pet food companies or pharmaceutical companies, frequently hire vet techs to do consultant work for them when developing new products.

There are also positions in scientific and research establishments, zoos and circuses, or animal welfare organizations.

There is an ever growing demand for veterinarians and veterinary technicians. The definition of what a vet tech does is a varied one that is guaranteed to grow in the coming years.

What You Need to Know About Veterinary Technician Degrees

Veterinary technician degree programs provide students with the formal training they need to perform a variety of clinical and technical tasks in animal shelters, clinics, research labs, veterinarian’s offices and zoos. This important job requires accreditation and formal training to ensure that the individual has what it takes to meet the many technical demands of the veterinary technician profession. During a vet tech degree program, students become veterinary professionals.

There are many technical skills that students acquire during the completion of accredited veterinary technician degree programs, such as the following:

– Hematology

– Microbiology

– Radiology procedures

– Serology

– Skin scrapings

– Urinalysis

– Venipuncture

Vet Tech Training Standards

In order to perform all those tasks, vet tech professionals must have proper training, and they must be certified. Training consists of a minimum of a two-year associate’s degree, although many vet techs actually have four-year bachelor’s degrees these days. In order to ensure that this education is consistent with the requirements for the job, most employers require veterinary technician degrees that are accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association. After getting a degree, graduates must also pass a credentialing examination administered by their state authorities.

Schooling isn’t necessary after graduation for a licensed veterinary technician. However, vet techs often enroll in advanced courses to enhance their job opportunities or simply for the sake of furthering their education and staying sharp on the job.

The Future of the Profession

Although the field of veterinary technology is still pretty new, it has become a mainstay of the modern job market, because people in our society think of their animals as members of their families. Pets need the same kind of medical care as people do. This is why there is a sharp projected increase in the number of career opportunities for vet techs in the United States. The modern veterinary office cannot run without qualified technicians to help out, and vet offices are here to stay.

Veterinarians need assistance with applying splints or other protective devices, cleaning animals’ teeth, determining causes of illness or injury, dressing wounds, performing physical examinations, recording temperatures and taking animals’ pulse and respiration. Vet techs also provide administrative support with tasks such as maintaining treatment records and conducting inventories of all pharmaceuticals, equipment and supplies. They even help with surgery by providing anesthetics and surgical equipment/instruments and generally monitoring the equipment and supporting the veterinarian.

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