What is involved
with a dental cleaning for my cat?
Very unlike our own routine
dental cleanings our pets require general anesthesia because they will not sit
still with their mouths open. In most cases pre anesthetic lab screenings and
cardiac screenings are required to help ensure the safest anesthetic protocols.
It may also be
advised to begin antibiotic treatment to get a head start in treating infection
caused by dental disease prior to anesthesia.
goal of dental scaling and polishing is to remove the tartar and invisible
plaque. Tooth scaling will be performed both by hand and using our state of the
art ultrasonic cleaning equipment to remove tartar both above and below the gum
line. The tartar beneath the gum line causes the most significant gum
recession. The teeth are then polished in order to help prevent subsequent
attempt to avoid multiple anesthetic procedures we attempt to do as much
oral/dental work needed in one visit.
Dental radiographs are usually needed to discover if
disease is present under the gum line that would otherwise go unnoticed which
helps determine if extractions are necessary. Digital dental radiographs can
also be used for screening of any other suspicious oral, nasal, or skull
findings. We will need a telephone number where you can be reached during the
dental cleaning so that we may attempt to discuss any additional work that may
be indicated once we begin.
How common is dental disease
Dental disease is the most
frequent condition seen by veterinarians. Approximately two-thirds (68%) of
cats over three years of age have some degree of dental disease. The most
common problems are due to periodontal disease, gingivitis and cervical neck lesions
(also called resorptive lesions or odontoclastic lesions).
What signs am I likely to
There are a number of signs
that should alert you to dental disease or other mouth problems presenting your
cat. Your cat may show a decreased interest in food, or approach the food bowl
and then show a reluctance to eat. It may chew with obvious caution and
discomfort, drop food from the mouth, or may swallow with difficulty. Dribbling
may be seen, possibly with blood, and there may be a marked unpleasant odor to
the breath. In some cases the cat may be seen pawing at their mouth or head
shaking. A reluctance to eat may lead to weight loss, which can become quite
marked. Many cats will refuse dry food and demonstrate a preference for moist
or canned foods. Dental disease and oral pain may account for the “finicky
appetites” that many cats display.
What causes dental disease?
The most common cause of
dental disease in cats is due to tartar and calculus accumulation. As in
humans, cats accumulate bacterial plaque on the surface of their teeth, If the
plaque is not removed quickly, it becomes mineralized to form tartar and
calculus. The bacterial products and decaying food stuck to tartar are one
potential cause of bad breath.
Tartar is easily identified
by its tan or brown color - it normally starts at the gum edge, especially on
the back teeth (premolars & molars). In severe cases it may cover the
The accumulation of tartar
and bacteria on the teeth surfaces lead to infection and gingivitis (inflammation of the gums). If the disease is caught at
an early stage and a thorough veterinary dental scaling and polishing
performed, most of the teeth and gums will have a full recovery. However, if
gingivitis is allowed to persist untreated, then irreversible periodontal disease will occur. During
this process the bone and ligaments that support the tooth are destroyed
leading to excessive tooth mobility and eventual tooth loss. Infection around
the socket causes the formation of pus and a foul odor and may spread deep into
the tooth socket creating an abscess, or even more severe problems.
Once periodontal disease
starts, the degenerative changes cannot be reversed. These changes make it
easier for more plaque and tartar to collect, resulting in further disease.
Is gingivitis always
associated with dental disease?
A slight degree of redness
seen as a thin line just below the edge of the gum may be considered normal in
some kittens and adult cats with no evidence of dental disease.
Some cats develop severe gingivitis
with minimal signs of accompanying dental disease. The affected areas may
extend beyond the gums to other areas of the mouth, such as the throat or
tongue. The cause of this condition is not fully understood but it is likely to
be multi-factorial and may differ between individual cases. This condition is
often very difficult to control and may require repeated or constant treatment,
and its accurate diagnosis can involve extensive investigative procedures.
What are cervical neck
Cervical neck lesions result
from a progressive destruction of the enamel resulting in slowly deepening
“holes” in affected teeth. Once the sensitive parts of the tooth are exposed,
these lesions are intensely painful, and the only available treatment is to extract
the tooth. The cause of this disease is unknown; however, poor oral hygiene is
suspected to play a role in the disease-process.
What can I do to help prevent dental disease in my cat?
The rate of tartar accumulation
is very variable between individual cats, and in some cases this may
necessitate professional cleaning on a regular basis (every 6-12 months).
Plaque and tartar begin forming in as little as six hours after your pet’s
dental cleaning. Regular dental cleanings will be always be necessary just as
they are in humans. However, there are steps you can take to lengthen the
amount of time between cleanings. See the recommended home dental care program
for all pets below.
Can I use human toothpaste?
Do not use human dentifrice or
toothpaste on any account. These are foaming products and are not meant to be
swallowed. Additionally, many types of human toothpaste contain sodium, which
may cause problems in some pets.
We recommend the following
routing home dental care:
Daily brushing with a cat appropriate
tooth brush or finger brush and cat safe toothpaste
Application of Oravet Sealant Gel two
weeks after the initial application at the time of the dental cleaning (if you
choose to have this performed), then once weekly thereafter can help slow the
build up of plaque
Hills food company has a balanced,
every day diet with added dental technology to help slow the build up of plaque
and tarter. Ask about Healthy Advantage Oral Care Plus or their Hills
Prescription T/D diet.