We at HPC pride ourselves with offering your pets the best quality of life. We achieve this by opening family’s minds to the possibility of alternative care, non-invasive treatments, and daily habits you can do at home to ensure your pets live a long and healthy life.    

One issue we encounter often is poor dental hygiene. It’s easy to overlook the importance of dental care with our pets when compared to the infinite stresses of regular life. But dental hygiene is just as important to our pets as it is for ourselves. We know the terror of going to the dentist when we were bad with our own personal hygiene. Imagine not brushing your teeth for years on end, eating constantly dry food and never flossing. Your teeth wouldn’t be in good shape. Unfortunately, that happens often with many clients that come to see us.    

Thankfully, we have an expert technician who has been training diligently to ensure your pets are healthy when they see us. Stephanie has been part of the HPC team for many years and she continually takes classes, goes to lectures and studies constantly because she loves cleaning teeth. Whenever your pet needs a full dental cleaning, Stephanie is the veterinary technician / dental specialist you want to have.    

Our clinic “ghost writer” got a chance to meet up with Stephanie and pick her brain about dentistry and being a vet tech.      

GW: What are some of your favorite procedures to perform as a technician? 

Steph: Favorite procedure is definitely doing dentistry. Anyone that knows me in this field definitely knows how much I enjoy working in an animal’s mouth. It’s so relaxing because it’s a procedure I get to do. A chance for me to really shine and show off all my training. You also get to see your progress. Scaling the plaque off of teeth; you can see the teeth from being covered in gunk to clean, pearly white. Knowing I’m helping relief pain makes it all worth it.    

GW: What are some red flags parents should watch for when it comes to poor dental care? 

Steph: Bad breath. Sore gums. Hesitant to eat. Tartar build-up. Oh, eye and face swelling are a big one. If the face is swelling, then one of the teeth are fractured and it needs to come out.    

GW: What causes teeth to fracture? It’s strange to imagine how teeth can break when we use them to break stuff constantly. 

Steph: Teeth can break pretty easily, especially when they are not taken care of. Some dogs will chew too hard on something and it will crack the weakened tooth. Tartar weakens the teeth so it loses its strength. Once that goes, it can be chewing on a hard bone, playing with a toy or just eating hard food that will cause it to break.    

GW: You have a few dogs at home if I recall. How do you handle brushing their teeth? 

Steph: Yo my dogs know I don’t mess around. They may not like it, but it’s getting done. One of them is better than the others because I trained him at a young age. It’s all about habit and consistency. One gets nervous when I get the dental gel and toothbrush out that he tries to hide. But it’s getting done, and he knows it.  

Specifically, I brush their teeth every day with a toothbrush and dental gels. They are older now so the gels work better to break up what tartar they have. Dr. Hirsch gave me the AnimalEO Dog Breath which I rub on their gums. They don’t mind that one. One of them really loves it that I bet he would drink if it I let him, which I won’t. Feeding them raw food helps with their breath because dry food just leaves too much on the teeth.     

GW: The medical field is always advancing, what are some things you do to grow with the field? How do you keep yourself up to date on the latest theories, technology and practices? 

Steph: I register and attend accredited courses that most animal hospitals promote and advertise for us to learn. During this pandemic, since we aren’t able to attend these courses, a lot of them can be done live through Zoom. Which I was able to do. I do not continually do schooling just because I recently graduated in May with a Master’s Degree.    

GW: Oh Huzzah! Congratulations. 

Steph: Aw, thank you.    

GW: What are some classes you want attend more? 

Steph: Dental wet labs. I enjoy getting hands on experience and being able to learn and explore more about an animal’s mouth. It’s my dream to one day do a dentistry on a big cat like a lion or tiger. Can you imagine having to extract one of those teeth?! It’d be such a great experience.    

GW: Does it ever feel too difficult balancing helping the Doctors, clients, patients and organizing the other technicians while doing your dentals? 

Steph: Yeah, it can get very stressful at times not being able to be all places at once. But one of the benefits about a practice being so busy is that the day goes by so quickly.    

GW: What helps you deal with the stress of working a high energy, busy practice? 

Steph: Playing music. If anyone sees me with an Airpod on, it is because I am trying to keep my good energy going and not trying to stress. I love most types of music, but I love my gym music. It keeps me pumped up all day.    

GW: Do you ever disagree with the Doctor’s decisions? 

Steph: Yes, there will be cases where the Doctor’s and I don’t agree. Sometimes being in the field so long and dealing with recurrent cases helps you where you can guide the Doctor. But sometimes, a Doctor would want to do a different direction. When it comes to dentals, the Doctor’s appreciate my input and trust me more because I have been taking these courses and going to these wet labs. Dr. B tells patients I know more about dentistry than some other Doctor’s he knows.    

GW: Is it better as a technician to be silent and follow orders or speak up in a professional matter when there could be another idea or option? 

Steph: Always better to speak up and say your opinion. Even if your opinion is wrong it will end up being another lesson to learn. Or you could give the Doctor’s something they didn’t consider, which ends up helping the patient more than what they considered. Things can get so busy that it’s good to have staff you can rely on to speak their minds and gives you a new way to look at things.  

GW: Is it better to learn tradition, holistic or a mixture of both? 

Steph: Both. Holistic medicine is a healthier route. The amount of love, time and energy we put into educating others is unconditional and it has proven holistic medicine can do more in a safer way. Traditional medicine can be useful when all else fails because sometimes things are beyond our control and we need something stronger. Learn from both. At the end of the day, you will need a little bit of both to diagnose or treat a patient. You can’t go wrong with having too much information.