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Dental disease in cats
by Jill Anne Sparpany
by Jill Anne Sparpany
How many of you can brush your cat’s teeth? How many of you would attempt to brush them with heavy-duty oven mitts and some kitty tranquilizer? Most people would not, yet feline dental disease and its complications are very common.
The American Veterinary Dental Society states 70% of pet cats show signs of dental disease by age 3. Signs of dental disease are bad breath, redness and swelling of the gums, changes in eating habits or pawing at the face or mouth. When eating, food residue called plaque sticks to teeth and over time, plaque hardens into tartar. If the tartar is not removed, gingivitis – irritation of the gums – leads to gum disease which is the most common cause of feline dental problems and tooth loss. Gingivitis causes gum recession and pocket formation, which traps bacteria. Infection weakens the lining of the socket holding the tooth in place, causing the tooth to become loose and drop out. Other dental problems include erosion of teeth, broken teeth, oral resorptive lesions, and stomatitis
Periodontal disease surrounding teeth of a cat.Note red, inflammed and receding gums
The extent of dental disease is determined by type of food, systemic illnesses, oral inflammation and breed, and if any oral care or preventatives are used at home.
Some breeds, including the Abyssinian, Persian and Siamese, are more prone to oral resorptive lesions, in which teeth are broken down at the gum line and reabsorbed. Softening food with water and daily brushing will help manage the resorptive condition.
|Caudal stomatitis in a cat|
Stomatitis is inflammation of the entire mouth. Clinical signs include drooling, extreme pain, loss of appetite and weight loss. The cat may become more aggressive, act depressed or withdraw from normal routines. Treatment for stomatitis includes oral gels, routine dental cleanings, steroids, antibiotics or homeopathic remedies. Advanced stomatitis not relieved by conservative treatments may necessitate extraction of the cat’s teeth.
Viral infections, such as feline leukemia virus (FeLV) and feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV), can make a cat more prone to dental disease.
Dental care can keep kitty’s pearly whites strong and healthy for his lifetime. Dental cleaning is a very quick procedure done under light anesthetic. The teeth are descaled, usually with an ultrasonic descaler that shoots sprays of water, vibrating at very high speed, onto the teeth. This is the same type of ultrasonic cleaning your dentist uses. The tartar is shaken loose and washed away. After cleaning, surfaces are polished smooth to prevent tartar buildup from occurring too quickly. Any badly infected teeth may need to be extracted.
Light anesthetics administered for dental cleanings are safe for elderly cats. It is better to have your older cat’s teeth cleaned annually to prevent infection or worse health problems, especially if other pre-existing health diseases are present.
Examine your cat’s mouth for red, irritated gums, tartar buildup and bad breath. Observe if your cat has changes in appetite, eating or behavior. Gums should be pink and firm. The cat should not have bad breath or plaque buildup on his teeth.
Many vets have plaque and tartar control treats and water additives to reduce plaque buildup. Be sure to provide fresh water daily!
Special Note: Not all vets administer antibiotics with routine dental cleanings. During tartar removal, small bleeding may occur and provides a portal of entry for oral bacteria to get into the bloodstream. ASK FOR THEM! We have had several cats DIE from the bacteria from dentals. Humans DIE from dentals from the same cause. ASK FOR ANTIBIOTICS to give BEFORE the dentals.