At The Barn Animal Hospital, we view your pet’s dental care to be just as important as other routine treatments such as worming and flea treatment. Pets just like people develop plaque and tartar on their teeth, this can lead to gum disease and tooth decay. We like to focus on home-based care where possible by encouraging brushing and appropriate diets. Regular dental checks at your pet’s yearly health check are an integral part of this philosophy. If your pet is suffering from dental disease and we feel that it cannot be managed by a home-based dental routine, then dental treatment may be required.
All dental procedures require general anaesthesia. We will fully assess your pet’s health before an anaesthetic to ensure that this is appropriate for them.
What are the signs of dental problems?
Pets can be affected by a wide variety of dental disease including periodontal disease, trauma to teeth and oral masses. Cats, in particular, can be prone to specific problems such as tooth resorption and gingivitis (inflammation of the gums).
We often see that dental problems in pets remain hidden until they become acute, with many animals not showing outward signs of pain or discomfort to their owners.
Signs of potential dental disease in your pet:
- Bad breath
- Pawing or rubbing at the side of the mouth
- Eating on one side or teeth chattering
- Favouring wet over dry food
- Vocalization on eating or dropping food from the mouth
What if my pet needs a dental?
If there is an indication that your pet is suffering from dental disease, we will recommend a Comprehensive Oral Health Assessment and Treatment (COHAT).
All dental procedures require general anaesthesia to fully assess the patient and carry out the necessary dental work. Often a large percentage of the disease is located under the gum line, so a thorough examination and dental x-rays are often required.
Estimation of the cost of dental treatment is often difficult as a thorough examination is required to understand the true extent of dental disease present. Please be aware that we may give wide estimates of cost.
Comprehensive Oral Health Assessment and Treatment (COHAT)
This is a detailed examination of your pet’s oral health. It is a complex and labour-intensive process however it allows us to identify any relevant disease and create a treatment plan as necessary.
What happens during a COHAT?
- General anaesthesia
- Periodontal probing: We examine each tooth individually with a periodontal probe. This allows us to check for pockets, which are caused by the gum losing its attachment to the tooth. Bacteria and tartar build up in the pocket leading to the erosion of the wall of the tooth socket, causing the tooth to become loose and eventually need removal. Small pockets can be cleaned but deep pockets normally require the removal of the tooth.
- Dental x-rays: Often the crown of the tooth may appear normal, however, dental x-rays allow the rest of the tooth to be examined. The entire mouth is imaged, reviewed by the vet and treatment decided upon.
- Charting: A dental chart is used to record the findings during a COHAT i.e., the presence of any diseased, traumatized, or missing teeth, the level of tartar and gum disease present etc.
- Scaling: This is the process of removing the tartar from the teeth. Tartar is produced by bacteria that live on the teeth, it causes gingivitis (inflammation of the gums), which leads to gum recession and tooth loss. To carry out this process we use a combination of ultrasonic scaling and hand scaling.
- Teeth extractions: These are only carried out when deemed necessary and the tooth is no longer viable due to disease or trauma. Extractions are carried out to ensure that we are making the patient as comfortable as possible.