Comprehensive Oral Health
Assessment and Treatment
for Dogs and Cats in Amesbury, MA
Here at Merrimac Valley Animal Hospital, we are proud to provide compassionate dental care services for your pet. We have been offering Comprehensive Oral Health Assessment and Treatment (COHAT) for many years. Our veterinarians who perform COHATs have received extracurricular training to offer the best care possible to your pet.
A true COHAT includes:
- Pre-surgical blood work evaluation and health history evaluation prior to anesthesia
- Thorough oral exam with probing and charting
- Dental X-rays (pre- and post-extraction)
- A treatment plan for each individual (including pain control and feeding instructions and recheck exams)
What is Periodontal Disease?
Periodontal disease is the most common disease affecting dogs and cats. Bacteria infects the structures holding the teeth in place, causing destruction of the gums and bone loss. This can eventually result in tooth decay and tooth loss without veterinary intervention.
Tooth Resorption in Dogs and Cats
Cats and dogs can also develop a painful condition known as tooth resorption, which essentially destroys the tooth. This condition, which is more common in cats (prevalence can be as high as 68%!) can start at the roots and extend to the crown, and can go undetected if X-rays are not performed. Tooth resorption can create “big cavities” that are extremely painful and cannot be corrected with fillings like human cavities. The only treatment for these painful, affected teeth is extraction.
Studies have shown that almost 1/3 of canine pets will have fracture teeth. Fractured teeth are painful and will need to be addressed with extraction or root canal treatment. X-rays will tell us if the fractured tooth can be treated with root canal therapy, or if extraction is the only option.
Tooth Pain can Harm Your Pet’s Quality of Life
Our pets unfortunately cannot tell us if they have a painful tooth. Their instinct is to hide pain so they can “survive.” This instinct served their ancestors well in the wild, but does not help them now. Therefore, most pets’ parents have no idea that they are experiencing real pain. Their dogs and cats may continue to eat and act normally. Yet, we often hear from clients how much better their pets feel after a COHAT and any hidden disease is taken care of; they are more playful, more energetic, purring more, carrying toys, etc.
Why We Recommend a Comprehensive Oral Health Assessment & Treatment (COHAT)
Teeth cleanings improve your pet’s oral health, keep their breath fresh and help to prevent periodontal disease over time. But teeth cleanings on their own are not enough to assess for oral disease.
Performing a COHAT means we assess the health of the whole mouth. This involves a thorough oral exam in which we probe every tooth on all its surfaces and perform dental X-rays to check for hidden bone disease below the gum line, such as root abscesses, bone loss, tooth resorption, and hidden cancerous processes. Without X-rays, many conditions can go undetected, and your pet will go home with clean teeth but continue to have a painful hidden infection and/or tooth resorption.
A COHAT done by a trained veterinarian will find any problem that cleaning alone cannot. Your vet will come up with a plan to treat the problem before it gets worse. Our goal is to ensure that your pet has a pain-free and infection-free mouth.
What to Expect for Your Pet’s Treatment
We may need to divide your pet’s treatment into two procedures depending on how much disease we find. During the first procedure, we will evaluate the oral cavity for disease and make a plan for treatment. We might be able to finish the whole treatment during that first visit; however, a second procedure may be necessary if there are several teeth that need to be addressed.
For more information on periodontal disease and dental cleaning, visit:
We recommend avoiding places offering “anesthesia-free dental cleanings.” They are not offering a true COHAT. “Anesthesia-free dentals” are not considered a standard level of care by the American Veterinary Dental College. For more information, visit: https://afd.avdc.org/what-is-an-anesthesia-free-dental-cleaning/.