Dental hygiene is one of the most important, yet most overlooked, aspects of our pets’ health and well-being. Dental disease is much more than just bad breath. Aside from constant lingering pain and inflammation, dental disease can have severe adverse effects on vital organs such as the liver, kidneys, and heart. Bacteria from diseased teeth can enter the blood stream, and end up thriving in internal organs. In the heart, they can cause inflammation and infection of the heart valves, causing permanent scarring and result in heart murmurs. We have developed a thorough dental care plan as recommended by board certified veterinary dentists that is often coined a COHAT – Complete Oral Health Assessment and Treatment.
When managing dental care in our pets, there are a few conflicts and complications that require a thorough plan of detection and treatment. Firstly, dogs and cats frequently do not show us outward signs of pain or discomfort, particularly dental pain. Signs are often very subtle, and can include refusal to chew food, or shifting food to non-painful parts of the mouth. Second, it is impossible – and we would like to emphasize impossible – to accurately detect and treat dental disease without general anesthesia in our pets.
Detection of dental disease involves performing full-mouth dental radiographs just as you have at your dentist. Over 60% of the tooth lies underneath the gum-line, and therefore can only be examined through radiographs. Please see our Digital Dental Radiography page for more on the importance of dental radiographs.
Treatment of dental disease involves much more than simply removing the tartar and calculus that is visible on the surface of the teeth. Our COHAT involves the following, performed by our Registered Veterinary Technicians who have had special training in such procedures:
- Rinsing the mouth with an antibacterial solution to minimize oral bacterial numbers.
- Using ultrasonic and hand scaling to remove calculus and tartar stuck to the tooth’s surface.
- Using special instruments, plaque and tartar is carefully removed from underneath the gum-line. This is the most important part of the procedure, as it is this plaque and bacteria that contributes to dental disease and gingivitis, including destruction of the bone, gums, and special tissues that surround each perform this task would render any treatments or prophylaxis as useless.
- Each tooth is carefully probed around the gum line detecting any gingival recession or abnormal pockets between the teeth.
- Each tooth is polished with a special paste that smooth’s the surface of the tooth, making it more difficult for plaque and tartar to stick to the teeth in the future.
- The mouth and teeth are then thoroughly flushed with water and an antibacterial solution.
- Any teeth requiring extraction or further treatments are then managed by the veterinarian.