Dental prevention plans for cats and dogs include regular tooth brushing, using products that have been proven to reduce gingivitis, plaque and tartar, and regular professional dental examinations and treatments. Just as in ourselves, dental disease is an ongoing infectious process occurring in the mouth of our pets throughout their lives. To prevent the harmful effects it can cause to your pet, it requires regular attention and intervention throughout their entire life.
What is a Comprehensive Dental Exam and Treatment, or COHAT?
At KAH you can be assured that your dog or cat’s dental disease will be assessed and treated thoroughly. Simply cleaning off the brown tartar is not what can added years to your pet’s life and keep them pain free. It is the disease that is hidden below the gums that is the most important to identify and treat. This can only be done under a general anesthetic, as this allows all areas of their mouth to be examined and properly cleaned.
We start with a comprehensive examination and charting of your pet’s oral cavity including their teeth, tongue, palates, gums and surrounding lips. The soft tissues are examined to identify any growths or abscesses which may need treatment. Because we can only see the visible part of each tooth, it is often the “tip of the iceberg” when it comes to dental disease. A thorough assessment of the parts of the tooth under the gums is also done. This is done by measuring the pocket depths between the tooth and the gum allowing proper grading and treatment of periodontal disease. This is the area where infection hides and gains access to your pet’s body through the inflammation caused in their gums. Tooth root diseases are evaluated using dental x-rays just as our own dentist does. X-rays reveals the 1/2 to 2/3 of the tooth that is hidden, and evaluates the health of the surrounding bone attachment. Healthy gums should be a pink fleshy color and should be tightly adhered to the crown of each tooth. The teeth are examined for discoloration, fractures, crowding and other lesions. Now that the exam is complete, every tooth is scaled using hand and pezio ultrasonic scalers to remove tartar and plaque both above and below the gum line. If required, further treatments are done at this time by the veterinarian. Finally, all the teeth are then polished to make every tooth surface smooth again to help prevent subsequent build-up of plaque. Fluoride is then applied to help strengthen the tooth enamel.
An Important Part of Prevention!
Plaque can deposit on a newly cleaned tooth within 3 hours! So, like with people, a regular home dental care program is a must for all pets. If we were to stop brushing our teeth a matrix of bacteria known as plaque will accumulate within hours and mineralize into tartar within days. Once tartar forms it can only be removed by dental scaling. Could you imaging going a week without brushing your teeth, let alone a year or two? At KAH, we understand that not everyone has time, nor does every pet cooperate with some of the home care methods available, so we will tailor a program that suits you and your pet. Your pet may benefit from one or multiple methods of dental protection, depending on their propensity for periodontal disease.
- Regular Tooth Brushing (We can show you and your pet how, and provide you with a free starter kit)
- It helps to feed mildly abrasive foods. We care a premium diet for both dogs and cats with the VOHC Seal of Acceptance for plaque and tartar. If your pet has not tried it yet, then you are eligible to receive a free starter bag.
- Chews/Treats/Toys: The mechanical action helps to remove plaque from tooth surfaces. Be careful to avoid natural bone and hard nylon toys which have been show to fracture teeth. Other ‘farm’ products have also shown to be dangerous to pet’s teeth and are not regulated to be safe and free from harmful bacteria. These include products such as deer antlers, pig ears, bull winkles, cow hooves and various smoked bones. Furthermore, the FDA in the USA has issued a statement advising against feeding bones to dogs.
- KAH carries a new water additive that has shown an 80% reduction in plaque when used daily. It has received the VOHC Seal of Acceptance for plaque control.
- There are many products on the market claiming to help control plaque and/or tartar, most of which have no research to back their statements. The Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC), a council made up of both Veterinary and Human Dental Specialists, and Scientists, has undertaken certification of products that claim to have dental benefits. They protect pet owners by reviewing the research companies have done and approve products that have met the standards they have set for retarding plaque and or tartar. These are definitely the products that you want to consider for your pet.
Not sure exactly where to start when it comes to your pets dental care?
No problem, simply contact our hospital today and we can schedule your cat or dog in for a complimentary dental health assessment. During this ‘Flip-A-Lip’ appointment your pet’s general dental health will be assessed and you will be provided with a Free Dental Homecare Kit, and information on what your pet needs to keep their mouth healthy.