What the heck do you call a 'dental'?!

March 29, 2017

Don't short-change the hard work that goes into dental work by calling it just a "cleaning" in front of clients. Two veterinary dentists sound off on their favorite terminologyand why.

"In companion animal veterinary practices across the country, dogs and cats receive 'dentals' daily. But the term 'dental' barely explains what's involved. At my practice, we refer to the anesthetized oral exam, dental cleaning and treatment performed under anesthesia, plus any prevention recommendations, as 'oral ATP' (assessment, treatment, prevention). Other practices call this COHAT, or comprehensive oral health assessment and treatment. Either way, it's a lot more than 'doing a dentistry.'"

-excerpted from "The ABCs of veterinary dentistry"


Owner of All Pets Dental in Weston, Florida


"Among DVMs, I call it an ATP, as it covers all facets of care, including discussing home care and products. In the exam room with clients, I call it a "diagnostic periodontal exam and cleaning." I explain why we perform dental radiographs-30 percent of dogs and 40 percent of cats have disease under the gum line that only rads can diagnose. I explain that we chart, probe and assess each tooth, saying, 'There are 42 teeth in a dog and 30 in a cat, and we're performing 42 (or 30) separate exams to evaluate each tooth above and below the gum line."

-Barden Greenfield, DVM, Dipl. AVDC

President of the American Veterinary Dental College

Owner of locations in Memphis, Tennessee, and Little Rock, Arkansas