The State of Veterinary Dental Education in North America, Canada, and the Caribbean: A Descriptive Study

J Vet Med Educ. 2017 Summer;44(2):358-363. doi: 10.3138/jvme.1215-204R. Epub 2016 Jul 14.


Dental disease is important in the population of pets seen by veterinarians. Knowledge and skills related to oral disease and dentistry are critical entry-level skills expected of graduating veterinarians. A descriptive survey on the state of veterinary dental education was sent to respondents from 35 veterinary schools in the United States, Canada, and the Caribbean. Using the online SurveyMonkey application, respondents answered up to 26 questions. Questions were primarily designed to determine the breadth and depth of veterinary dental education from didactic instruction in years 1-3 to the clinical year programs. There was an excellent response to the survey with 86% compliance. Learning opportunities for veterinary students in years 1-3 in both the lecture and laboratory environments were limited, as were the experiences in the clinical year 4, which were divided between community-type practices and veterinary dentistry and oral surgery services. The former provided more hands-on clinical experience, including tooth extraction, while the latter focused on dental charting and periodontal debridement. Data on degrees and certifications of faculty revealed only 12 programs with board-certified veterinary dentists. Of these, seven veterinary schools had residency programs in veterinary dentistry at the time of the survey. Data from this study demonstrate the lack of curricular time dedicated to dental content in the veterinary schools participating in the survey, thereby suggesting the need for veterinary schools to address the issue of veterinary dental education. By graduation, new veterinarians should have acquired the needed knowledge and skills to meet both societal demands and professional expectations.

Keywords: DVM curriculum; Day One or entry-level dental skills; dental residency training; veterinary dentistry; veterinary education.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Canada
  • Caribbean Region
  • Dental Calculus / therapy
  • Dental Calculus / veterinary
  • Education, Dental*
  • Education, Veterinary*
  • Humans
  • Students, Medical*
  • United States