Pet Dentistry at Russell Vale Animal Clinic

Dental Care – aka – “The Dental” or “COHAT”

Whilst many vets perform “dentals”, and this is a word often used by owners, it can be a confusing word in that it does not describe what is included in “the dental”.

For some vets, it may just be a scale and polish, and for others, it may be more comprehensive.

I prefer to use the term COHAT, which is Comprehensive Oral Health Assessment and Treatment.

Dental disease is one of the most common conditions we see in the veterinary profession, with many studies showing that 70% of dogs by 2 years of age, have some form of dental disease.

Did you know – Dr Liz, and Russell Vale Animal Clinic were the first veterinary hospital in the Illawarra to do dental radiographs (we have been doing them since 2007), going digital in 2009.

Did you know – Dr Liz wrote a blog for Vetanswers on Dental Charting for Dummies? It is still one of their most popular blogs. 000375/

Some of the more common signs that you may notice include

  • No signs at all – your pet will still be eating, drinking and playing normally, but you may notice an “off smell” from their mouth
  • Picking up food, and then dropping it soon after
  • Drooling a lot
  • Swollen, red gums and/or wobbly teeth

Most common sign which owners notice, but consider it normal, is bad breath. Like us, it is not normal, and is a sign of disease.

How can I prevent dental disease?

When your pet is young, you can start introducing them to the gentle brushing of their gums and teeth. Daily brushing, like us, is the best way of disrupting the biofilm on the gum, and to slow the progression of tartar forming.

You can use a toddlers flat head toothbrush, chux wipe or a section of ladies pantyhose, flavoured with some chicken or beef stock. No more than a few minutes, as we do not want to damage the gums.

Enzymatic dental chews, and biscuits can also help.

There are many water additives and pastes, but all are not created equal. We refer you to the VOHC (Veterinary Oral Health Council) list of appropriate products, and do not hesitate to ask us for our advice also.


What about bones?

Answer – we do not advocate bones at Russell Vale Animal Clinic as they are known to increase the likelihood of microfractures and complete fractures of teeth, get jammed in the mouth, cause choke and other digestive issues.

We acknowledge that some dogs do benefit from bones, but these must always be given under supervision.

As with most things in life, when it comes to dental disease, prevention is always better, as once periodontal disease is established in your pet’s mouth, we cannot reverse it, only slow its progression (this is the most common reason for pet owner frustration with professional dental cleanings – they seem to think that a single cleaning will last for life, and unfortunately it does not).

For many pets, regular attention at home may avoid the need for a professional dental cleaning under anaesthetic, but for others, due to issues of the shape of the face, their immune system and other factors, the only choice is to under general anaesthesia and a COHAT.

It is a sad fact that the true extent of disease is not always evident UNTIL they are under anaesthetic. Under anaesthesia, we perform a full oral cavity (nose, tongue, throat, glands) examination, assess each tooth individually for periodontal depth, gingivitis, calculus, bone loss score (and record this on our dental chart), and then do a full mouth dental radiographs.

Once this is done, we are able to assess both the chart and the radiographs to create a “dental plan”. If any other dental procedures are needed which were not discussed with you at the time of admission, we will contact you to get your permission to proceed (eg extractions).

Our experienced team has advanced training in complex dental procedures (such as surgical extractions, impacted teeth, retained baby teeth).

A full thorough cleaning using a combination of hand tools, ultrasonic scaler, and finishing off with a polish therapy, and fluride treatment.

All of the information is collated for you, and your pet goes home with a copy of their dental chart and radiographs.

Call or book online to arrange a dental check up today at Russell Vale Animal Clinic.