Does your cat have dental disease??
Most cats 3 years or older have dental disease.
Cats can have:
- Periodontal disease – plaque, then tartar and gingivitis occur – how quickly they occur depends on genetics (how protective their saliva is and if they have any tooth abnormalities)
- Resorptive lesions – painful, cavity like lesions at and under the gum line
- Stomatitis / Gingivitis – severe inflammation of the mouth and gums not due to the usual tartar – is the immune system over reacting to bacteria and/or plaque associated with the teeth
- Tumor – lumps in the mouth can be benign (gingival hyperplasia) or malignant (aggressive tumors)
Have your vet check your cats mouth if you think there is anything not normal:
- Reluctance to eat
- Bad breath (worse than the usual cat food breath)
- Recently started dropping food while eating
- Brown on the teeth
- Excessive drooling
- Blood in the saliva
What can you do to prevent dental disease in your cat??
Periodontal disease can be delayed or prevented with daily brushing of the cats’ teeth. No diet, treat or any other product is as good as daily brushing.
Diets (ie: RC Dental or Hills T/D) and treats (ie: some Greenies) with the VOHC stamp of approval are proven to reduce tartar and gingivitis. They help ~ 40% of cats who use the products as instructed on the label.
There are water additives that might help prevent dental problems BUT I am reluctant to put anything in a cat’s water because it might cause the cat to drink less. If a cat drinks less they are at higher risk of bladder disease, constipation, and more problems.
If your vet finds a diseased tooth (on exam or during a dental cleaning) they will likely need to extract it. It is better to have no tooth than a painful tooth. Cats can eat their food just fine if they are missing teeth.
Make sure your vet uses analgesia during surgery (ie: local blocks) and after (metacam and/or buprenorphine to go home with your cat).
Make sure your vet can take dental xrays. These are important for the diagnosis and treatment of resorptive lesions.
Anesthesia free dentals are NOT GOOD for cats. Most cats don’t like someone putting probes in their mouth while awake. If they have much disease the awake dental procedure will hurt and make your cat afraid to have anyone touch their mouth in the future. You cannot clean under a cat’s gums or take dental xrays without anesthesia. Anesthesia is a serious proposition but good clinics with proper monitoring (a trained and experienced RVT, not just a machine) have low complication rates (< 2% of patients die during routine anesthesia).
Please ask your vet if you have questions about your cat’s oral health.