Dental Care - aka = "The Dental" or "COHAT"

Whilst many vets perform "dentals", fewer vets and pet owners are familiar with the term COHAT. 

COHAT is the preferred term in that it refers to a Comprehensive Oral Health Assessment and Treatment, compared to a "dental" which is often a superficial removal of tartar from the crown.

Just like humans, pets’ teeth need looking after too! The health of their teeth and gums has a significant impact on their overall quality of life. Imagine how your mouth would feel, and smell, if you never brushed your teeth. Imagine having a really bad toothache and not being able to tell anyone about it!

Dental disease typically begins with a build-up of plaque, consisting of bacteria, food particles and saliva components, on the teeth. Plaque sticks to the tooth surface above and below the gum line and if not removed will calcify into tartar (also known as calculus). This appears as a yellow-brown material on the teeth. Over time the plaque and tartar can result in periodontal disease, which results can result in irreversible changes to the teeth and supportive structures.

Periodontal disease can result in local problems, such as red and inflamed gums, bad breath, and the loss of teeth. There is also growing evidence that periodontal disease can be associated with disease in distant organs, including the heart, liver and kidneys. Ultimately, dental disease is more than just a cosmetic issue – it can be a cause of significant illness and pain in dogs and cats.

Common signs of dental disease include:

  • Yellow-brown tartar around the gum line
  • Inflamed, red gums
  • Bad breath
  • Change in eating or chewing habits (especially in cats)
  • Pawing at the face or mouth
  • Excessive drooling
  • Pain or bleeding when you touch the gums or mouth

If your pet is showing any of these signs of dental disease please book an appointment to see us. Early assessment and action can save your pet’s teeth!

Truth be told though, as our pets hide their disease, many pet owners do not see these signs either.  This is why we offer free pet dental checks all year round, with our regular pets receiving regular dental check reminders. 

How can I prevent dental disease?

Long-term control and prevention of dental disease requires regular home care. The best way to begin this is to acclimatise your pet from a young age. Dental home care may include:

Brushing Teeth Daily

Just like us! This is the best form of dental hygiene. Pet toothbrushes and toothpaste are now available. Please do not use human toothpaste formulas as they are not designed to be swallowed and may be toxic to your pet.

You can use a toddlers flat head toothbrush, chux wipe or ladies pantyhose works well to remove the biofilm of the tooth surface without causing too much enamel or gum damage.  

Teeth Friendly Chews and Toys

Use dental toys, enzymatic chews, or teeth cleaning biscuits, all of which may help keep the teeth clean.

We do not advocate bones in this practice due to the increased likelihood of microfractures and complete fractures of the teeth, as well as other risks. 

Dental Diets

Feed pets special dental diets. This can help reduce the accumulation of tartar.

Some diets contact dental protectants (such as  sodium hexametaphosphate)  or those rich in  Vitamin E and C can reduce calculus build up.  IN some diets, the structure of the food can create a flossing effect on the food.  

As with most things in life, when it comes to dental disease, prevention is definitely better than cure. Regular and frequent attention to your pet's teeth may avoid the need for a professional dental clean under anaesthetic, and will also improve your pet's overall health.

What does a professional dental clean involve?

It is similar to a  thorough dental procedure done by a dentist for us which may include radiographs and subgingival cleaning.  However, unlike us, our pets won’t sit still or open their mouth to allow a comprehensive examination or cleaning of their teeth.

For this reason, our pets need to have a general anaesthetic for a professional dental assessment and clean. Your pet will need to be assessed for their degree of .dental disease to give a better indication of the type of treatment required. 

Unfortunately, for most pets, the true extent of disease is not always evident in a conscious examination.

The assessment will also include a physical exam, and possibly blood tests and urine tests to ensure they are healthy prior to having an anaesthetic. Once anaesthetised, we can give the teeth a thorough cleaning using our specialised dental equipment. When your pet goes home we will also discuss methods of reducing dental disease in the future.

If you have any questions about dental care or professional cleaning please do not hesitate to contact us.

Feel free to head over to our blog as we like to write about dentistry.