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Dental Care | COHAT

What is a COHAT?

The term COHAT stands for Comprehensive Oral Health Assessment and Treatment. It is an assessment of the whole mouth with an oral exam, dental radiographs, teeth cleaning, and treatment plan for any problems found.
Oral health problems can spread and cause problems for the jaw, sinuses, and important organs in the body. A COHAT completed by a veterinarian will find any problems that cannot be found by a dental cleaning alone, and come up with a plan to treat the problems before they get worse and possibly spread to the rest of the body.

What is Included in a COHAT?

At Dewinton Pet Hospital, we understand that every patient is unique, and therefore each COHAT is different. Below are the essential elements of the COHAT that are used for every patient procedure:

  • Every COHAT starts with a pre-surgical oral examination by a veterinarian. This is often done prior to booking a COHAT procedure and allows the veterinarian to create and provide an estimated treatment plan that is unique to your pet. Pre-surgical appointments also give you a chance to meet the veterinary surgical team and offer you the opportunity to ask any questions you may have regarding the procedure, anesthesia, and home care.
  • The day of the procedure, the veterinary team will review pre-anesthetic bloodwork and urinalysis, and the medical records from the pre-surgical appointment. Your pet is anesthetized with their unique anesthesia plan. A local anesthetic is also used for patient comfort. Local anesthesia also lessens the amount of general anesthetic gas used, thereby improving the safety of the anesthetic procedure.

While under anesthesia, a COHAT will include the following, without any pain or discomfort for your pet:

  • A complete oral examination, including dental charting and probing for each tooth.
  • A complete professional scaling (cleaning) to remove plaque and tartar build-up both above the gum-line (the crown, or visible part of your pet’s tooth), and below the gum-line (where periodontal disease lurks). This is achieved by scraping the tooth’s surface.
  • A complete professional polishing of the crown (visible part of the tooth) to smooth out any rough edges that may have been caused from the scaling procedure. If left un-polished, the rough surface of the tooth can encourage bacteria growth and plaque formation which can lead to bad breath and periodontal disease. This procedure will also make those pearly whites shine brilliantly.
  • Dental radiographs are taken on each patient to assess each tooth and its root structure below the gum-line. Common problems that can be identified include fractured teeth, periodontal disease complications, dead teeth, abscesses or infected teeth, or damage to the jaw itself. If any abnormalities are seen on the dental radiographs, the veterinarian will then contact you with any further treatment needs.

After recovery, your pet is most often able to go home. At discharge time, one of our nurses will go over your pet’s discharge and recovery instructions. The veterinarian will also give you a full report of findings, go over radiographs, and any other recommendations for home care and further dental care between regular COHAT procedures.

Why are Pre-anesthetic Bloodwork and Urinalysis Strongly Recommended?

At Dewinton Pet Hospital, we strongly recommend pre-anesthetic bloodwork and urinalysis for all of our patients prior to any of our surgical procedures. This helps us to prepare an anesthetic plan that is unique to your pet and to provide the appropriate home medications.

Pre-anesthetic bloodwork and urinalysis also identifies any potential problems that the veterinary surgical team needs to be aware of, such as liver and kidney function, and to determine if your pet is healthy enough to undergo anesthesia. Pre-anesthetic bloodwork and urinalysis can be performed at the pre-surgical examination or day of the procedure.

What is the Difference between a COHAT and a Dental Cleaning? What about Anesthesia-Free Procedures?

As pet owners ourselves, we understand you have your pet’s best interest at heart and want to make the best choice for their care.

In comparison to a COHAT, general dental cleanings have very little benefit to your pet’s oral health, as plaque and tartar are only removed from the surface of the tooth and not below the gum-line, where harmful bacteria likes to hide. Leaving plaque-causing bacteria and tartar under the gum-line can lead to extensive damage to tooth roots and supporting the bone structure.

You may have heard about anesthesia-free dental cleanings from your local groomer, or word of mouth. As the name suggests, anesthesia-free dental cleanings involve scaling of a pet’s teeth without the use of general anesthesia. The patient is restrained awake, while the crown (the visible portion of a pet’s tooth) is scaled (cleaned) with a hand tool. This procedure does not properly clean your pet’s teeth and can leave your pet at risk for the progression of periodontal disease, as they are unable to properly clean under the gum-line. Although your pet may seem to tolerate the process, your pet is still being restrained for a lengthy period of time.

Anesthesia is a scary word for many owners. Proper protocols tailored to each patient’s specific health status and monitoring by a dedicated and trained veterinary surgical team, ensure that procedures involving general anesthesia are safe for every age, species, and breed. COHATs performed under general anesthesia are far less dangerous than the periodontal disease that will develop without proper cleaning procedures.

As an AAHA certified veterinary practice, Dewinton Pet Hospital is held to extremely high standards of anesthetic care and is required to keep an anesthesia safety record.

In conclusion, dental cleanings and anesthesia-free dentals may help your pet’s teeth look cleaner and temporarily clear up that “doggy breath”, but it provides little benefit to your pet’s overall health. Regular COHATs will help keep your pet healthy and costs less for overall patient care in the long run. Remember, Happy Pets = Happy People.