It is important to be able to identify oral pathology and anomalies. It is equally important to correctly record the pathology
on dental charts. A thorough dental examination includes both conscious and anesthetized examinations as well as charting
disease processes, pathology and anomalies, and treatment plans.
Why is dental charting important? A dental chart is a diagrammatic representation of the dentition where information can
be entered in a pictorial and/or notation format. It allows you to keep a record of the patient's oral health, track changes
in oral health and record treatment. A dental chart is also a legal document.
In order to ensure efficient record keeping the chart should include: a chart with a key, brief descriptions to clarify disease
and treatments, procedure preformed, therapeutic plan, prognosis and photographs. These can be in either a fill in or check
off format. The chart needs to have basic vital information that is similar to the items needed in all veterinary records.
There are commercially available dental charts available but you can develop your own.
Being aware of dental formulas, oral anatomy as well as terminology is crucial to proper charting. Head type of the animal
as well as malocclusions need to be noted.
In human dentistry, there is one universal tooth identification system, however in the veterinary world there are many identification
systems currently being used. The anatomical system uses the first letter of each tooth type along with a number to identify
each tooth. The advantage of the anatomical system is that it is easy to remember and many teeth can be identified at one
time. The disadvantages are that is can be more time consuming to identify individual teeth and some computer systems may
not be alpha numeric friendly.
The Triadan numbering system gives each tooth a three digit number. The first digit represents the quadrant of the mouth
and the other two numbers represent the tooth identification. The rule of 4 & 9 helps to identify the teeth. The number
04 is always given to the canine tooth and the number 09 is always given to the first molar. The advantages of the Triadan
system is that it is quicker to say and can be used with most computers. The disadvantages are that it is not intuitive and
that you must know the code. This system is gaining in popularity.
It is imperative that individuals performing dentistry know the number of roots for each tooth. The root systems for both
canine and feline are illustrated in the following figures.