COHAT: Comprehensive Oral Health Assessment and Treatment
This is one of the most common ways we diagnose and treat dental disease. Our approach is systematic and thorough and includes anesthesia for full oral examination, probing/charting of all oral pathology, full mouth digital intra-oral x-rays, ultrasonic and hand scaling, polishing, and fluoride treatment. It allows us to properly identify and address existing dental problems and make plans for further diagnostic tests and needed treatments. Many of the problems identified can be treated during this visit.
Endodontic Treatment for damaged or non-vital teeth:
Endodontic treatment refers to treatment of disease within a tooth. The most common endodontic procedure is called a root canal procedure, which allows pets (and humans) to keep teeth that are rendered non-vital due to injury or internal damage to the living tissues inside the tooth called the pulp. Sadly pulp tissue has very little defense against bacterial infection or inflammation and non-vital teeth must be extracted or have a root canal procedure to eliminate hidden but ongoing pain, inflammation, and infection within the tooth and the bone surrounding the tooth root tips.
We have the ability to save these teeth and avoid invasive surgical extractions, which weaken the jawbone and alter chewing function forever. All discolored teeth and teeth with fractures should be examined to determine if root canal treatment is indicated.
Metal crowns are used in veterinary dentistry to protect damaged teeth
from further fracture and loss. They are commonly recommended for teeth that have been badly fractured and/or have had root canal treatment. These teeth are saved and kept in the mouth by this procedure and having protective crowns placed on them to prevent further damage makes sense in patients who may not “take it easy” when using them to pick up items during play or using them to chew with.
Malocclusion is a problem in the way the upper and lower teeth fit together when the mouth is closed. The word malocclusion literally means “bad bite.” Many patients with malocclusion have tooth-tooth contact or tooth contact with gum tissue or even bone when the mouth is closed. This can result in extreme pain and damage if left unrecognized or untreated. Many breeds are particularly prone to this, particularly those with short jaws such as Pugs, Boxers, and Cavalier King Charles Spaniels to name a few. These dogs are easy to love, but may require intervention to give them a comfortable, pain-free mouth. Remember—animals hide oral pain from us. These patients should be identified in early puppyhood for best outcomes with potentially easier management options.
There are many diseases and oral health conditions that can only be treated with surgery. Oral surgery often involves both hard and soft tissues and requires specific training and ability to deal with dental structures requiring specialty training and equipment to be able to accurately assess problems and implement appropriate treatments. A list of conditions often requiring oral surgery includes:
- Complicated or difficult tooth extractions
- Patients with advanced and severe periodontal disease
- Periodontal Surgery, bone grafting procedures to save teeth
- Stomatitis patients (particularly cats) requiring extraction of all teeth
- Salivary Gland Disorders
- Tumors and masses involving the oral cavity
- Palatal Defects
- Jaw fracture/Facial trauma
- Certain types of TMJ problems
While cavities, or dental caries, are rare in dogs and cats, tooth fractures and enamel defects that can be repaired with composite restorations can be common. We use the same materials and methods used in human dentistry for “fillings” and our restorations are typically used not for cosmetics alone, but are placed to strengthen teeth and restore their normal function and to decrease tooth sensitivity at the fracture or defect.
Orthodontics: moving teeth
Active force appliances, buttons and elastics can be used to move teeth that are not in their proper place and causing problems. These techniques are recommended not for cosmetic reasons but to return teeth to a more normal and functional position as a treatment for certain types of malocclusion involving just a few teeth.