Did you know dental disease is the most common disease diagnosed in cats over three years of age?
Over two-thirds of adult and geriatric cats have some type of dental disease, including gingivitis/periodontitis, tartar and ondontoclastic resorptive lesions.
Most dental disease is silent - there are no obvious symptoms. However, when dental disease progresses, or there is a major issue like a fractured or infected tooth, signs may include decreased appetite, decreased activity, dropped food, drooling and bad breath. Head shaking, pawing at the face, grinding of the teeth, and changing food preferences may also indicate dental disease.
"An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure."
How do you treat dental disease? The best way to treat dental disease is to prevent it! The veterinarians at Cat Care of Rochester Hills have several recommendations to prevent dental disease:
Depending on the type of severity of dental disease, supplements and at-home treatments can significantly improve your cat's oral health (and her quality of life). These products also help decrease the frequency of cleanings!
- Have your cat examined by a veterinarian at least once per year (twice yearly for our "senior kittyzens"). The veterinarian will do a full physical exam, including an oral exam. This allows the veterinarian to catch most dental disease early and make treatment recommendations.
- Have your cat's teeth cleaned as recommended by the veterinarian. The frequency of cleanings depends on many factors, including tartar build-up, ginigivitis, presence of loose teeth or ORL's, age and overall health. Cats often need cleanings more frequently as they age, and some chronic diseases actually contribute to dental disease.
- If your cat will allow it, brush their teeth at home. Home oral care is just as important for animals as it is for humans!
- Offer your kitty tartar control treats like Hill's T/D or Greenies.
Dental Cleaning Procedure - What to Expect
All dental cleaning procedures are performed under general anesthesia. Here at Cat Care, we utilize Isoflurane, a gas inhalant anesthetic.
Pre-anesthetic blood work should be performed prior to anesthesia to ensure the patient's optimal health before anesthestizing.
How do we monitor our patients during the dental procedure?
Patients are monitored throughout the procedure by listening to their hearts and watching their breathing rate. While a licensed veterinary technician and veterinarian manually monitor the patient, we concurrently use a Pulse-oximeter. This is a monitoring machine that tells the technician the patient's heart rate, SPO2 (oxygen levels) and their breathing rate.
Body temperature is also monitored throughout the procedure. To help maintain body temperature, we utilize various sources of heat like electric heating pads, socks placed on the patient's extremities, self heating pads and hot water bottles. Sometimes we may even recover, or wake the patient up, in a heated cage.
What is involved in a dental cleaning procedure?
Dental procedures start with a general exam and charting of the teeth done by a Licensed Veterinary Technician. The technician looks for tartar, gingivitis, gum recession and any pockets or open spaces, around the gum line. The technician cleans the teeth using a high speed piezoelectric scaler, which vibrates to loosen and remove any plaque, tartar and staining from the teeth. The technicians also insert a dental probe along the gum line and alerts the veterinarian of any pockets found.
Once the licensed technician finishes cleaning the teeth, the veterinarian looks to see if there are any dental problems, such as Odonoclastic Resportive lesions, severe gum recession, fractures or mobile teeth. If any problems are present, a radiograph is taken so the veterinarian has a better idea about what processes are happening below the gum line.
The veterinarian performs any procedures to repair or remove indicated teeth.
After the veterinarian has finished repairing any dental problems, the licensed technician finishes the dental cleaning. This includes polishing the teeth to help smooth out the tooth surface, applying flouride for strength and to combat sensitivity, and applying a Ora-vet barrier sealant to help slow down tartar build-up.
We give all patients pain management prior to starting the dental procedure. However, patients who have had extensive dental work may need pain management after the cleaning and at home. The veterinarian will make this determination.
After being awakened from anesthesia and monitored by a Licensed Veterinary Technician, most cats are ready to go home early in the afternoon.