A lot of people ask Dr. Laura Hardy if she loves dentistry because her mother is a hygienist and her husband is a human dentist. But that’s not the case. “I fell in love with it all on my own,” she says.
Hardy graduated from veterinary school in 2016, moved to Eugene, and began her work in general practice, but she quickly started to find her passion in pet dentistry. She is now starting a master’s program in veterinary dentistry and will then be starting her own contracting company to provide local clinics with advanced dentistry.
“I feel like I make the biggest and most significant difference in a pet’s life just by cleaning their teeth and removing diseased teeth, a main source of pain,” she says.
Hardy learned bone grafting, jaw fractures, crown placements, and other intricate pet dentistry techniques. She began to instruct new veterinarians about pet dentistry, and even taught pre-veterinary students at Oregon State University. Along her journey, she had the privilege of meeting Dr. Brook Niemic, a leader in the pet dentistry world. He has written many of the veterinary dentistry handbooks that are used today, and owns 21 clinics all over the West Coast.
“He took me under his wing and helped me advance my dentistry even more,” Hardy says. “I am now lucky enough to work alongside him, performing procedures that help to save more teeth and keep our patients healthy.”
While many pet parents recognize a pet’s pain if they are limping or reluctant to go on their daily run, most aren’t aware of what’s going on inside their pet’s mouth. And the kicker is, dental disease and dental pain can affect more than just your pet’s mouth.
One patient, a 13-year-old Chihuahua, was experiencing vomiting, diarrhea, fever, and lethargy, and no one could figure out the cause. It turned out to be inflammation of the pancreas, but the parent trusted Hardy, who resolved the symptoms by performing some much-needed dental work to remove diseased teeth. After that, the dog started eating without any difficulty, gained some much-needed weight, and even started playing with long-forgotten toys. “He never had pancreatitis again, and lived to be over 17 years old,” Hardy says.
Pet dentistry isn’t just for seniors. “Many of my clients have told me they don’t think their pet is in pain because they are eating and drinking just fine,” she says. “Most pets will hide pain because that is what their genetics tell them to do. Once their dentals are performed and disease is removed from their mouths, I am told over and over again that the owners had no idea the difference a dental cleaning could make.” Regular teeth cleanings can help your pet maintain healthy teeth (which means less extractions!) and improve your pet’s overall health so they can live a happier, healthier, longer life.
“We have to remember that when we, as humans, get dental pain, we are still socializing, still eating and drinking, but we live our best lives without pain,” Hardy says. “Everyone and every pet deserves that.”
At Pawsitive Wellness, each dental patient gets blood work done to make sure they are healthy enough for anesthesia. Once they get the green light, two technicians and the doctor closely monitor the pet’s vitals the entire time. The team takes full mouth radiographs to see what is going on under the gum-line and assess each tooth’s viability. Each tooth gets cleaned of any tartar. The doctor performs a full dental exam, which includes checking for periodontal disease and assessing the bite, gingivitis, fractures, and more. Extractions or any other advanced dental procedures like bond and sealants, crown placements, or gum flap surgery, are completed. Your pet recovers under supervision in a soft, warm bed before you pick them up at the end of the day.
“Working at Pawsitive Wellness Veterinary Care has allowed me to grow as a veterinarian and provide my patients with the best possible dental care,” Hardy says. “I have wonderful techs that care about my patients as much as I do and get excited about dentistry.”
Hardy graduated from veterinary school in 2016, moved to Eugene, and began her work in general practice, but she quickly started to find her passion in pet dentistry. She is now starting a masters program in veterinary dentistry and will then be starting her own contracting company to provide local clinics with advanced dentistry.
Pawsitive Wellness Veterinary Care, 2759 Shadowview, 541/515-6789, Pawswellvet.com