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A Tale of Two Hygienists Podcast

Jul 28, 2021

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Joining Andrew and Michelle on today’s episode is Dr. Robert MacLean, DVM and Dr. Erin Ribka, DVM here to discuss animal oral health. Dr. Ribka is an owner and veterinarian at Veterinary Dental Specialties & Oral Surgery and Dr. MacLean is the senior veterinarian at the Audubon Nature Institute. They both graduated from the School of Veterinary Medicine at University of Wisconsin. Together, our hosts and guests discuss a variety of topics including the similarities in animal dentistry and human dentistry, dental issues in veterinary medicine, and pain management.


In today’s episode, we learn about our guests’ backgrounds and how they know each other, the lack of training in dentistry for most veterinarians, the importance of feeding correctly to prevent dental issues, and the stories of various experiences they’ve had with their patients. The episode rounds off with a discussion about the similarities in instruments used in animal dentistry with those used in human dentistry, and the sterilization of instruments they use.




Interview starts: 5:48



-   The path to becoming a veterinarian

-   Dr. Ribka’s interest in dentistry

-   How Dr. MacLean got into being a veterinarian for the zoo 

-   Why do veterinarians need dentistry training?

-   The two tracks available in the American Veterinary dental college

-   Dental issues in veterinary medicine

-   Using Chlorhexidine for animal teeth

-   What animals regenerate teeth?

-   The importance of correct feeding for malocclusion prevention

-   Pain management in veterinary dental care

-   The etiology in wild animals vs companion pets

-   What are the similarities in instruments used for human teeth and animal teeth?

-   How to clean and sterilize instruments used in veterinary dentistry




“Different veterinary specialties have different lengths, residencies, and different requirements.”


“We certainly recognize that in zoo medicine, that we these days, really try to rely on available experts to assist us so we make sure we get procedures done efficiently and correctly for the animals.”


“We have done, as veterinarians, not a very good job of training veterinarians in dentistry.”


“Dentistry is what got me into veterinary medicine.”


“Periodontal disease in small animal patients is the number one disease - more than obesity, more than anything else.”


“Most zoo veterinarians have at least some basic knowledge of extractions.”


“Tetracycline has also been used as a biomarker to age animals.”


“We got a couple of years more lifespan on these animals if we tried to periodically float their teeth and manage their dental arcades.”


“As soon as I passed that first exam, I forgot everything I had to know about rabbits.”


“Education is absolutely key and if people understand why I want to extract the tooth or why this tooth needs a root canal, then they're more accepting of the cost because it's not cheap.”


“Periodontal disease in companion pets has gotten much worse because of the way we breed them.”


“We see more dental issues in our older animals.”


“There are fewer than 200 veterinary dentists in the world.”







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