Don't call it a dental!

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Don't call it a dental!

Prioritize preventive care on patients' teeth with a new acronym: COPAT.

The veterinary dental visit is not complete until a discussion is had with the client detailing how to keep their pet's mouth clean and how to minimize recurrence of the disease. Enter ... COPAT. (Getty Images)A few months ago, two veterinary dentists, a president and a past president of the American Veterinary Dental College, sounded off on their favorite terminology for careful examinations and subsequent treatment.

One of those dentists now wants to make a national pitch for a new acronym to cover it all and put preventive care first: COPAT, or comprehensive oral prevention, assessment and treatment.

After all, argues Jan Bellows, DVM, DAVDC, DABVP, FAVD, owner of All Pets Dental in Weston, Florida, prevention is already No. 1 for human dentists. He knows that's still not true for many veterinarians, even though he thinks the change is coming.

"Years ago, we came up with oral ATP—oral assessment, treatment and prevention—which is exactly what we're often doing. We assess the patient and mouth under anesthesia, then we treat, and talk about prevention," Dr. Bellows says. "What many of us are doing today is different than what human dentists are doing. When our patients come to us, they have halitosis, indicating disease under the gum line already."

What he thinks the future could hold, however, is more like the human dentistry model, where patients show up once or twice a year for preventive examinations and cleanings, instead of waiting for problems to develop.

"We see dogs as young as 3 years old with periodontal disease," Dr. Bellows says. "How many people between 25 and 30 start losing their teeth? It doesn't happen, because we brush and floss and go to the dentist to have our teeth cleaned."

Ready to put client education out front on prevention with COPAT? Start brainstorming your favorite client messaging now. “Our dentistry service is now perfectly COPATcetic,” anyone?