WHAT IS DENTAL DISEASE?
Dental disease spans multiple issues caused by plaque formation on the teeth. As plaque accumulates, it hardens, forming tartar. This build-up, especially near the gum line, can lead to infected tissue and surrounding bone. The result is painful infection and inflammation that can impact the entire body.
DENTAL DISEASE IN DOGS
Dental disease is one of the most common medical conditions seen by veterinarians and over 80% of dogs over the age of 3 have dental disease. While we humans develop cavities or tooth decay, dogs usually develop and infection of the gum line called periodontal disease. This infection can cause other health issues and pain, so it's essential to have your veterinarian examine your canine companions.
HOW DOES DENTAL DISEASE AFFECT MY PET?
Bacteria is a significant component of dental disease. As tartar progresses under the gum line, bacteria travel into surrounding tissue and bone, which can cause numerous health concerns. This infection may lead to pain and tooth-root abscesses. Sometimes the issues can even lead to fractures. Oral bacteria can enter the bloodstream, which can impact the heart, liver, and kidneys.
DENTAL DISEASE IN CATS
Cats commonly develop inflammation and infection of the gumline as well as tooth resorptive lesions, which is a progressive destruction of the crown. This causes the tooth to become brittle which can lead to fractures. Cats often hide dental disease so examinations are critical in catching this and other painful conditions.
ORAL EXAM IS NOT ENOUGH
The oral exam is simply evaluating the observable structures in the mouth. This is a significant part of the comprehensive physical exam as there are numerous diseases that can occur that do not involve teeth and associated bone. While tumors, ulcerations, and other soft tissue pathology may occur, dental disease is the most common medical condition seen by veterinarians. It is estimated that over 80% of dogs and 85% of cats over the age of 3 have some form of dental disease that requires medical attention. As advances in dental care have been utilized by veterinarians, it is increasingly clear that these estimates may be on the low side as radiography has proven that the oral exam is not revealing the whole picture when it comes to severity of disease. Most of the dental disease occurs under the gumline involving the roots, periodontal ligament and alveolar bone which is termed periodontal disease. This can not be evaluated on oral exam and requires radiographs to assess for pathology.
Each one of the pairs of images below demonstrates cases with little to no signs of disease such as tartar, plaque, gingivitis, gum swelling, or bleeding. When radiographs were performed, significant periodontal disease was observed. In most cases, if left untreated, would lead to significant pain, infection, &/or fractures.
DOES MY PET HAVE PERIODONTAL DISEASE?
DENTAL RADIOGRAPHS ARE A MUST!
Unfortunately, odds are that your pet does have some form of periodontal disease. As shown above there is no way to tell what is occurring below the gumline without radiographs. The statistics show that on clinically normal pets (no obvious gingivitis) approximately 1/4 of dogs and almost 1/2 of cats may have significant periodontal disease that requires treatment. The video below does a wonderful job of showing the different stages of periodontal disease with radiographic changes and why routine dental cleanings are a vital component to keeping your pets healthy.
WHAT IS COHAT?
COMPREHENSAIVE ORAL HEALTH ASSESSMENT & TREATMENT
The overall health of your pet is significantly impacted by oral health. Veterinary medicine has predominately been reactive instead of proactive when it comes to this important aspect of medical care. The doctors and staff of Trinity Veterinary Hospital are dedicated to continually improving our care and are proud to announce our new dental radiography unit will be installed soon. This important tool will be utilized, along with exam, probing, and cleaning to completely assess the oral health of your pets. This assessment will give our veterinarians the information necessary to make a proactive treatment plan to ensue your pets are healthy and pain free.
WHAT IS THE NEXT STEP FOR MY PET?
Contact us to set up an appointment for one of our veterinarians to examine your pet and review the COHAT process. This process includes all aspects of sedation and dental care. The following video explains these aspects exactly as performed at Trinity Veterinary Hospital.
I AM WORRIED ABOUT ANESTHESIA
The health and care of our patients is our top priority! There are many facets of consideration when determining the level of anesthetic risk as it is different for each pet. For patients that are deemed healthy (exam, bloodwork, and thoracic radiographs are normal) then there is minimal risk to anesthesia. We further minimize these risks by utilizing the safest sedatives and anesthetic protocols as well as extensive monitor each patient during every procedures. By being proactive and having a COHAT performed before periodontal disease has started will minimize anesthetic time and need for stronger sedatives &/or pain medications. We utilize anesthesia on a daily basis and understand the risk and safety of it. If you are uncomfortable or have any hesitation to have a COHAT performed on your pet because of anesthesia, please ask one of our doctors to review the procedure and we will be happy to answer any questions you may have.
WHEN IS THE BEST TIME TO GET A COHAT
It is important to be proactive with dental care to minimize long term pain, bone loss, and infection that can spread through out the body. This means performing yearly COHATs no matter if tartar or gingivitis is visible. As shown above there can be significant disease hidden under the gum line even in the face of no outward clinical signs. In essence, now is the right time to have your pet evaluated and COHAT performed!
VETERINARY VS. HUMAN TEETH
Look if you dare!
(graphic pictures below)
To prevent long term pain and health problems this is the point where a COHAT needs to be performed!
It is hard to say this is just moderate tartar. Unfortunately, this is the level of disease (along with severe tartar) that we most often perform dental care at in veterinary medicine. Can you imagine having this in your mouth?
Unfortunately, this is the level of disease (along with moderate tartar) that we most often perform dental care at in veterinary medicine. Can you imagine having this in your mouth?