Dental Disease in CATS
Dental disease affects nearly all adult cats at some point in their life. If left untreated, dental disease can be a hidden source of pain and discomfort. It can result in decreased appetite, weight loss and poor grooming. It can also lead to more serious health problems such as kidney and heart disease.
It can be difficult to detect dental disease in cats. Often the only thing you will notice is the occasional whiff of bad breath or glimpse of an inflamed gum. In order to perform a thorough dental examination most cats will require a general anaesthetic. This is because most cats will not tolerate us opening their mouths and probing their gums while they are awake. Understandable from the cats perspective. However, during the consultation we can usually pick up the tell-tale signs of dental disease. Halitosis (bad breath), brown tartar stuck to the teeth, red inflamed sore gums. These are all indications that a dental treatment is required.
Dental Treatment – On the day of the procedure
On the day of the procedure your pet will have a full physical examination. We recommend a pre-anaesthetic blood test prior to all major dental procedures to make sure your pet is up to having an anaesthetic. This is especially important if your pet is over eight years of age. You pet will then have an intravenous catheter placed and we will proceed to a full general anaesthetic. During the anaesthetic your pet is monitored by a nurse using a Surgivet Anaesthetic Monitor. All pets are placed on intravenous fluids during the anaesthetic to support their kidneys and help flush the anaesthetic agents from their system.
Once your pet is safely under a light general anaesthetic a though examination of your pets mouth is performed as below:
1. Gum probing and checking for pathology
Initially the mouth is examined including the tongue, soft palate and tonsils. Each tooth is then probed to assess for loss of attachment of the gum to the tooth and this is recorded on your pets dental chart. At this time, we are also looking for any signs of Feline Odontoclastic Resorptive Lesions (FORLs), fractured or lose teeth and signs of infection.
2. Dental X-rays
We recommend all cats undergoing dental treatment have a full series of dental x-ray series performed. Up to 50% of dental pathology will be hidden below the gum line which means many lesions will not be detected without taking x-rays. This may mean that at the end of the dental procedure your pet may still be in pain!
Early FORLs can be easily found using dental xrays as well as fractures below the gum line and abscesses.
These teeth show severe tooth resorption (FORLs) however above the gum line these may look like normal teeth.
There are many reasons that a tooth may need to be extracted. Some include, FORLs, tooth root abscesses, crown fractures, gum recession resulting in tooth root bifurcation exposure. Loose teeth may also require extraction. If an extraction is performed a local nerve block is performed to provide them with additional pain relief.
Extracting a cat’s tooth is often not a simple process, Many tooth extractions require a surgical flap of gum tissue to be elevated to be able to access the root properly without damage to the surrounding bone and gums. Where possible, the gum is then sutured back into place with dissolvable sutures.
4. Ultrasonic scale and polish
This step involves removing all the tartar from the tooth surface and polishing the tooth to create a smooth surface making it difficult form plaque to adhere back to the tooth. This helps to slow the development of further tartar build up.
5. Post Procedure
After the procedure your pet is monitored closely during recovery. Medications may be dispensed including antibiotics and pain medications. When your pet is fully recovered they can go home. We then get you to come back 10-14 days after the procedure for a complimentary follow up consultation. During this time we make sure that your pets mouth has healed well and then importantly we develop a Dental Preventative Healthcare Plan.
The Dental Preventative Healthcare Plan
The home care that you provide for your cat’s oral health will form a vital part in their ongoing treatment. During this Complimentary Consultation our veterinary team will provide recommendations suited to your own pets individual needs taking into account life style and temperament factors.
Regular dental check ups
After your complimentary follow up consultation we recommend you have your pets dental health rechecked every six months. This is so we can assess any problem areas in the mouth that need further attention. Dental care is about managing dental disease, not curing. At some point further disease will develop, no matter what we do to try to prevent it. And when it does occur there may be the need for further dental treatments. We are happy to provide these follow up dental consultations free of charge to our clients.