Dental COHAT (Scaling/ Polishing)

What is a Dental COHAT?

A dental COHAT, or Complete Oral Health Assessment and Treatment, accurately reflects the level of veterinary dental care that all animals should receive. This is a multi-step process that thoroughly assesses the oral cavity for various aspects of dental disease and providing appropriate treatment for pathology uncovered.
All steps of the dental COHAT are performed personally by our veterinarian involving:
  • Preliminary Exam: Comprehensive history from owner and awake physical examination
  • Thorough Exam: Thorough oral and dental examination, only possible when cat is under general anaesthesia. All teeth surfaces are examined, and the periodontal space (space beneath gums) of each tooth is then probed with a special instrument, one of the many indicators on the health of each tooth.
  • Dental X-Rays: Full mouth dental x-rays are taken to fully assess the internal layers and roots of each tooth hidden beneath the gums. Many teeth often appear normal on the surface, but painful and infectious disease beneath is diagnosed only with dental x-rays.
  • Scaling and Polishing: After the complete oral assessment is complete, all teeth are scaled with an ultrasonic dental scaler to remove plaque, tartar and calculus, and then polished to smoothen the teeth surfaces to reduce the attachment of tartar.
  • Further Treatment: Diseased teeth are further treated. This may involve teeth extractions and dental surgery to permanently remove the source of chronic infection and pain. Sometimes root canal therapy can be considered to keep the teeth.

Endodontics (Root Canal Therapy)

When is root canal therapy indicated?

After a tooth fracture, bacteria enters the inner tooth root or pulp, resulting in infection of the root tip, which causes pain and surrounding bone loss. On the outside, the tooth may look discoloured or normal.

Root canal therapy is a much less invasive and painful method to treat these fractured/discoloured teeth instead of surgical extraction.

In cats, root canal therapy is particularly used to save the canine teeth, which reduces the risk on instability/fracture of the jaw bones in the case of the lower canines, as the canine root forms a significant part of the jaw bone integrity.

What does root canal therapy involve?

In order to prepare a tooth for root canal therapy, the tooth must first receive a dental COHAT (link to COHAT section above if possible). This includes an external examination, dental x-rays and scaling and polishing. Access points are then created on the tooth surface to reach the entire tooth root to remove it’s pulp contents, sterilize and fill the root/pulp chamber, seal the canal and restore the access point with composites.

What aftercare is needed?

After root canal therapy, cats can go back to normal eating and activity. Owners may notice that their cats eat more readily and comfortably as the source of infection and pain is removed.

Routine rechecks are essential periodically, initially about 2 weeks post procedure, then 3 to 6 months after for repeat dental x-rays to monitor the tooth, it’s root and surrounding bony structures.

Daily dental home care with brushing should also be practiced (if not already a routine), as recommended for all cats in general.

Are there any alternatives to root canal therapy?

When teeth have infected roots, the only treatment options are surgical extraction or root canal therapy. Leaving the tooth alone otherwise will only result in progressive infection, pain and destruction of the tooth and surrounding bony structures. Bacteria can also spread via the bloodstream to cause infections in distant organs such as the heart, liver and kidneys.

Root canal therapy is the less painful and invasive treatment option.

Amber Cat Vet offers root canal therapy services with Dr Brian Loon.