THE COHAT: The Comprehensive Oral Health Assessment And Treatment For Pets
Dog and cat dental health care is a key service at Country Club Animal Clinic. We can assist you to care for your pet’s mouth at all stages of his or her life. Whether your pet has active dental disease, or you’re looking to prevent problems in a healthy mouth, we’re here to help!
The COHAT involves the following stages:
1) Visual assessment: This is done first as part of a physical exam in the awake animal, then under general anesthesia. The veterinarian and assistant look for buildup of calculus, inflammation or recession of the gingiva (gums), broken teeth, tumors or other irregularities of the gingiva or other tissues, and other abnormalities.
2) Intra-oral x-rays: Country Club Animal Clinic was the first practice in the Coachella Valley to make dental x-rays a routine part of our dental assessment, so we know first-hand some of the things we can see on x-ray that we would never have suspected without them! This includes broken roots, abscessed teeth, tumors of the bone in the jaw, abnormally erupted teeth, cysts, and more.
3) The prophylaxis: Ultrasonic scaling to remove calculus and plaque, polishing to smooth the surface of the teeth and remove stain, and fluoride treatment to help protect against future disease. We use instruments that your hygienist might use on you!
4) Mapping of gingival pockets, furcation exposures, and other lesions that might require additional treatment.
5) Extraction of teeth that are causing pain or discomfort.
6) Periodontal therapy such as root planing, infusion of antibiotic gels into pockets to promote healing, or the application of a product such as Oravet™ to protect against plaque.
7) Endodontic treatments such as root canal therapy or vital pulpotomy.*
8) Follow up treatments such as non-anesthetic cleanings, reapplication of Oravet™ or a similar product, brushing and other home care.
*Endodontic therapy is not performed at Country Club Animal Clinic, but referral is available for those who prefer this over extraction.
As for people, the health of the teeth and gums can impact the entire body. At Country Club Animal Clinic, oral health care begins in puppy- and kittenhood. We will discuss brushing and recommend ways to encourage safe chewing. We’ll even give you a free toothbrush and a sample of toothpaste to get you started! But we recognize that many owners don’t have the time or ability to brush their pets’ teeth, and many pets aren’t willing to cooperate.
For pets with who qualify – typically those with mild tartar, or who need ongoing maintenance after a COHAT – we offer a non-anesthetic, ultrasonic scaling and polishing treatment. This is available by appointment, twice a month – usually the 2nd Tuesday and 4th Friday of each month. We contract with skilled technicians who only work under veterinary supervision, to help keep your pet’s teeth and gums as healthy as possible. Obviously, it’s not possible to take x-rays or perform most extractions without general anesthesia. That’s why this is considered an adjunct therapy, and a means to extend the interval between anesthetic procedures – not as the only dental care your pet will ever need.
If you are looking for high quality pet dental care in Palm Desert, call Country Club Animal Clinic at 760-776-7555 to schedule an appointment.
Crown: the visible part of the tooth, above the gum line.
Root: The “anchor,” or the part of the tooth you can’t normally see, because it’s anchored in bone which is covered by the gingiva.
Gingiva: The gums, both around the outside, and along the surface closer to the tongue (lingual surface) or roof (palatal surface), as well as between the teeth.
Enamel: The hard surface of the tooth.
Pulp Canal: The soft tunnel inside the tooth, where the nerve lives.
Plaque: a film of food, saliva, and bacteria that adheres to the teeth while chewing. This can be removed by brushing or chewing proper substrates.
Calculus: Within 48 hours, mineral (calcium) is deposited in the plaque, forming a hard visible material. Typically, calculus (aka ‘tartar’) accumulates in crevices such as between teeth and where the tooth meets the gums. This cannot be removed by brushing, but in the early stages, small amounts may be removed by vigorous chewing.
Gingivitis: Within plaque and calculus, there are large numbers of bacteria, which cause infection if they contact compromised tissue. In this case, the compromised tissue is the gums (gingiva) that are constantly being micro-traumatized by the presence of calculus and the abrasion or normal chewing. Infection of the gums is called gingivitis. This is visible in the form of redness. Initially it may be only a very fine line along the outside edge of the gums. Later, it may progress to affect the entire mouth. Many people notice bad breath at this stage.
Periodontitis: This is the natural progression of gingivitis that is not treated. The infection reaches the bone that supports the teeth. In the early stages, this can still be treated without extracting the affected teeth; left alone, the bone is slowly eaten away by infection until the tooth becomes loose, and can even fall out. Note: removal of the tooth by itself is not enough to make the infection go away! The dead bone must be removed, and antibiotics are often needed.
Stomatitis: Profound, generalized inflammation of the gingiva, sometimes involving the palate, cheeks, and even the tongue. Believed to be an auto-immune condition in cats. This condition is extremely painful and usually leads to reluctance to eat.
Tooth Resorption: A condition seen primarily in cats, where the immune system attacks the enamel of the tooth, causing a defect that resembles a cavity. This usually happens at or near the gum line, and is extremely painful. Left untreated, eventually the tooth will break off and gingiva will try to grow over the exposed root. Unfortunately, even with all the advances in pet dental care, the only known effective treatment for tooth resorption is to extract the tooth.
Still have questions about pet dental care or specific issues? We are here to help, contact us today @ 760-776-7555