Your Veterinarian is your cat's dentist!
Just as people should have regular checkups by their dentist, your cat needs regular dental care by your veterinarian. Every regular examination in our clinic includes a thorough dental exam. If we find disease, we will recommend a treatment plan.
Research shows that at around the age of 2, 70% of cats have some sign of dental disease. Problems usually start with a buildup of sticky plaque that hardens to form tartar. Tartar or plaque is a colorless film containing large amounts of bacteria. If not removed, this can lead to gingivitis, a painful condition of inflamed gums, and eventually periodontal disease may develop. Untreated periodontal disease is a painful condition that can lead to tooth loss and damage to organs such as the kidneys, liver, and heart due to infections.
Look for these dental warning signs:
- Bad breath
- Yellow-brown crust on teeth
- Bleeding gums
- Change in chewing or eating habits
- Going to the food bowl, but not eating
- Dropping food out of the mouth
- Swallowing food whole
- Pawing or rubbing the mouth
- Tooth loss
- Mood change or subdued behavior
- Abnormal drooling
Cats use their teeth like humans use fingers; therefore, losing a tooth is a big deal to them. Yet, cats are prone to lesions that erode their teeth over time. Resorptive lesions are the most common tooth disease in domestic cats. Studies show that about 28 percent of domestic cats develop at least one of these painful lesions during their lifetime. Tooth resorption frequently begins at the gum line. Without professional veterinary oral care, you may not know there's a problem until your cat's teeth are seriously damaged.
But remember, cats try to hide signs of an illness. So by the time you see these symptoms, your cat is very painful.
Check out these photos of feline stomatitis, resorptive lesions, and peridontal disease.
Professional Dental Cleaning
Part of your cat's treatment plan may include a professional dental cleaning under carefully monitored anesthesia. Anesthesia is absolutely necessary for a thorough cleaning and dental treatment. Your cat will have an intravenous catheter in place during the dental procedure to administer fluids and medications. Your cat will also recieve pain control if needed prior to the procedure.
During a dental cleaning, one of our Registered Veterinary Technicians will remove plaque and tartar with an ultrasonic scaler and use a hand scaler to remove plaque and tartar from crevices and underneath the gum line. She will also use a periodontal probe to check for pockets under the gum line. Your cat's mouth is examined for abnormalities such as broken teeth, missing teeth, ulcers, or tumors. After the technician finishes cleaning above and below the gum line, she polishes your cat's teeth, which smoothes out any scratches in the enamel. Your cat will also receive a fluoride treatment to strengthen his teeth and desensitize exposed roots.
Dental Radiology and Extractions
Only a portion of a tooth is visible above the gumline; that is why it is important to perform dental x-rays to show us what we can't see - the tooth's structure below the gums and the bone that anchors it. Occasionally a tooth may look normal, but upon x-rays we find that the root is unhealthy, and that the tooth needs to be extracted. We will take x-rays of your cat's teeth with our digital dental x-ray machine to determine if there are problems occuring underneath your cat's gumline and if there are teeth that need to be extracted. Only the veterinarian performs dental extractions. Prior to extractions, your cat will be given a nerve block for added pain control. Your cat may have sutures in their mouth that will dissolve over time.
We will provide antibiotics and pain medication for your cat as needed. We'll also recommend a home care plan to help you keep your cat healthy and hopefully reduce the number of professional dental procedures.