The Cat Doctors Dental services
For most of us, caring for our teeth and gums has been part of our daily routine for as long as we can remember. Just like you, your kitty needs regular dental care, too.
Over time, plaque builds up on the surface of the teeth. Plaque is a clear film that contains large amounts of bacteria. When left unchecked, plaque builds up and creates a thick layer that causes infection and destroys gums, resulting in loss of tissue and bone that supports the teeth. All kitties are at risk for developing dental problems. You may notice signs such as bad breath, a change in behavior, unexplained weight loss, drooling, yellow-brown crust on the teeth or a change in chewing or eating habits. These are all signs that major dental disease may be present. Ignoring the condition of your cat's mouth can lead to serious health problems, such as heart, liver and kidney failure.
Cats as a species are also highly prone to developing dental lesions called Feline Odontoclastic Resorptive Lesions (FORLs). Cells called odontoclasts are found in the lesions and cause the normal tooth structures to dissolve over time. According to the American Veterinary Dental Forum, if your cat is over five years old there is a 72% chance that he/she has a FORL! What triggers this reaction has not been determined for certain, but a reaction to plaque seems to be the major factor. The majority of kitties affected by FORLs do not show obvious signs that they are in pain, making it hard for their owners to know about the problem. During your cat's physical exam at The Cat Doctors, a veterinarian will thoroughly assess your cat's teeth and gums. Many times, an FORL can be seen during these exams. Unfortunately, about 50% of these lesions can be hidden under the gumline, and cannot be seen during an oral exam. This is why dental x-rays are performed on every patient at our hospital whenever they undergo a dental procedure.
Kitties undergoing a dental surgery must have pre-operative lab work run to ensure that they have good liver and kidney function and can safely handle anesthetic drugs. They will then be placed under general anesthesia and will be given pain medications and X-rays will be performed to assess the health of the root structures and bone underneath the gumline. If extractions are indicated, nerve blocks will be administered in the areas where extractions will occur to prevent any pain during the extraction process. After any diseased and painful teeth are extracted, the healthy teeth will be cleaned with a scaler and then polished. Intravenous fluids are administered and your cat's blood pressure, heart rate and breathing are closely monitored during the entire procedure. They are sent home with a few days worth of pain medication, and sometimes antibiotics.
You may also wish to view a unique and instructional video on learning how to brush your cats' teeth. We realize not all kitties will allow you to brush their teeth but it is an important part of maintaining feline dental health. Access these useful videos by clicking on the Resources link and then following the link to Cornell Feline Heath Center where you will find the Feline Health Videos section.
If you are concerned about dental disease in your pet, please call our office to schedule an appointment to specifically assess the health of your cat's teeth and gums. As mentioned before, our veterinarians will also check your cat's oral health during his or her annual to semi-annual (depending on age) physical exam.
Your cat can develop a wide array of serious problems from poor oral hygeine. Healthy cats do not have bad breath! The Cat Doctors can explain appropriate procedures for home care and also perform a variety of procedures to ensure that your cat maintains healthy teeth and gums.