Preventing Dental Disease
Unfortunately, dental disease is a very common problem in cats. Every wellness exam at Cats Exclusive includes an oral evaluation, which allows us to identify obvious dental issues early and give you our recommendations for the best dental care and treatment options for your cat(s).
Factors contributing to dental issues:
• Genetic predisposition, diet (a cat's natural diet helps keep teeth clean through the abrasive properties of hair, feathers, and bone), and lack of dental care.
• Plaque (consisting of food particles and bacteria) accumulates on teeth after eating. If the plaque is not removed, it will begin to mineralize and form calculus, or tartar. Once a large amount of tartar has accumulated, routine brushing of the teeth will become ineffective and dental scaling is required. Tartar alone can cause bad breath and discomfort and if it remains on the tooth for a long period, it can begin to cause inflammation and infection of the gums.
• As gum disease progresses, the bone surrounding the teeth and the tooth roots will be damaged and will begin to erode. Tooth root abscesses and tooth fractures may result.
• Cats are also prone to developing cavitary lesions of the teeth similar to cavities in humans called FORLS (feline odontoclastic resorptive lesions). These lesions may occur at or below the gum line and can be very painful. In these cases, extraction of the tooth is necessary. Recent studies have shown that about 70% of cats will develop a FORL in their lifetime.
It is possible to train your cat to accept tooth brushing and CET oral rinses and enzymatic dental chews are also available to help with dental care. Studies have shown no link between the type of diet that is fed to cats (canned or dry) and dental disease - dry food has NOT been shown to reduce plaque or tartar.
Dental cleanings in cats are similar to what is done in people - except our patients require light anesthesia! While under anesthesia, we are allowed the opportunity to better examine the teeth and gums for less obvious disease, also x-rays can be performed allowing us to formulate the best treatment plan for your cat's health. The teeth are cleaned using an ultrasonic scaler and then polished.
This article is from the Cats Exclusive Mewsletter, Fall 2013. To view the entire Mewsletter.