Dental Care

Dental health is an important part of cat ownership that is often overlooked. Cats are stoic animals and mask pain or discomfort very well, so staying on top of keeping your cat’s mouth healthy is critical! Daily home care can help prevent dental disease, this can include a dental diet, brushing teeth, water additives, or dental treats. Your pet’s veterinarian can help you come up with a plan that works for you and your pet!

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What is involved in a dental cleaning procedure?

Even with dental home care, some cats may require a dental cleaning and possible extractions at some point. A dental cleaning at Mission Ridge Animal Hospital is considered a surgical procedure, where they will stay with us for the day. Pre-anesthetic blood work is often recommended at least a few days prior to the procedure. This allows us to get an idea of what is going on internally in your cat and if necessary, we can adjust the anesthetic protocol (medications), or order additional tests, based on what the veterinarian finds. Pre-medication (sedation) is given prior to the anesthetic induction agent (medication that helps get your cat under anesthetic) and an endotracheal tube (ET tube) is placed to prevent aspiration of fluid into your cat’s lungs, as well as to deliver the anesthetic gas and oxygen. IV fluids are connected to ensure hydration and your cat will be closely monitored throughout the entire procedure and day.

We typically begin a dental cleaning procedure by taking full mouth radiographs for the veterinarian to interpret (you can never tell what is going on underneath the gum line until we have these and are able to probe). Once the radiographs have been taken, we begin cleaning the teeth. We use an ultrasonic scaler, hand scalers and curettes to clean all surfaces of the teeth, as well as underneath the gum line. The veterinarian ‘explores’ the pockets between the tooth and the gum and measures depth and roughness – a problem here can often indicate the need for an extraction. Once the probing has been done, the veterinarian will extract any teeth that need to come out. We always polish the teeth after the cleaning has been done to smooth out any imperfections created, as imperfections can be a breeding ground for plaque and bacteria! We then repeat these steps on the other side of the mouth before waking your cat up with a clean, fresh mouth!

What are signs of dental problems in cats?

Signs of dental disease in your cat may include halitosis (smelly breath), gingivitis or red gums, tooth loss or movement, drooling, decreased appetite, weight loss, decrease in grooming or hiding.

Are some breeds more susceptible than others?

Some breeds including Abyssinians, Persians and other oriental breeds have higher chances of developing dental disease than others, although genetics can also play a role.

What is feline tooth resorption?

FORL’s (feline oral resorptive lesions) or kitty cavities, occur when the body begins to resorb, which results in a loss of enamel on the affected tooth. The exact cause of these painful lesions is unknown, and often extraction of the affected tooth is the best treatment.

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