Cat Dental Care

Dental care is very important to the health and wellbeing of your pet. It is not about having a pretty smile although that is an added bonus. It is about prevention of disease in the mouth. Left untreated, gingivitis, tartar and gum recession occur. Eventually, the support systems of the teeth give away as periodontal disease occurs. A diseased mouth is a painful mouth and cats will do their very best to hide signs of pain. Broken teeth can lead to tooth root abscesses and sensitivity to hot and cold. Prevention is key.

What is involved in a dental cleaning procedure?

There are 4 stages of dental disease. Once tartar and gingivitis are well established in your cat’s mouth, home dental care will not be enough. It is important to have your cat’s teeth professionally cleaned to prevent dental disease from progressing. The goal is to intervene before pain and infection occur. Professional dentistry is performed under general anesthesia. The same professional scaling and polishing of the teeth that happens at your dentist will happen with your cat. Our veterinary technicians will remove tartar above the gum line and just below the gum line to help restore health to your pet’s mouth. We will probe the gum line to identify if there are any pockets forming which can indicate more advanced dental disease. It is not just the tartar on the part of the tooth that you see we are concerned with. Bacteria, food, and saliva collect at the gum line and as the gum begins to detach from the tooth creating a pocket, tartar begins to form below the gum line. This continues to happen as the pocket gets deeper and deeper. This subgingival (below the gum line) tartar cannot be sufficiently scaled, polished and rinsed with your kitty awake. Left untreated, oral disease progresses. Once your pet’s teeth have been polished and rinsed, the veterinarian will perform an oral examination and review dental radiographs to assess if there is any disease hidden below the gum line. If there are any teeth that require extraction, an estimate will be provided for the procedure. A nerve block will be given to prevent pain and home pain medication will be dispensed as well. Antibiotics may be sent home as well. This is a day procedure and your cat will be home with you that evening after spending the day with us. Pets undergoing anesthesia for dental care have pre-anesthetic blood work performed prior in order to identify if there are other health concerns present. There is a skilled technician monitoring anesthesia for the entire procedure. Your cat’s temperature, blood pressure, oxygen saturation, heart rate and respiratory rate are all closely monitored. In addition, an intravenous catheter is placed, and your pet receives intravenous fluids as well. We take great pride in doing all we can to ensure your cat is well cared for during their stay.

What are signs of dental problems in cats?

Often cat owners miss the signs of dental problems in cats. Cats are experts of masking pain and vulnerability. Cat owners often say to us, “They can’t be in pain, they are still eating”. They need to eat to survive and will push through pain to continue eating. How they eat may change, but they will keep eating. If you are looking for signs of dental problems, you may see a cat pawing at their mouth, excessive drooling or a bad odour from their mouth. They may take longer to eat or the way they eat changes. There may be visibly missing or broken teeth, gingivitis or tartar. It can also be subtle changes where they hide more or sleep more or maybe they are not playing as much as they used to or are less vocal.

Are some breeds more susceptible than others?

All cats are susceptible to dental disease. Home dental care will help to prevent gingivitis, tartar and advanced dental disease which is very painful.

What is feline tooth resorption?

Teeth resorption occurs when the cat’s body attacks its own teeth. The body begins to absorb the teeth until the tooth has completely disappeared. During this slow process, it can be very painful for the cat. If we were to touch the part of the tooth above the gum line being resorbed, the cat shudders the jaw due to the nerve pain. Cats will often avoid chewing on that side of the mouth to avoid the pain. Extraction of these teeth is needed to prevent pain as the tooth is being resorbed.

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