Dr. Kelley Wallace

Catawba Heights Animal Hospital - Contact Us

What is involved in cat dental care?

Cat dental care involves daily home practices such as using water additives, dental chews, and even brushing their teeth. Yearly to every other year, cats, like humans, need a professional dental cleaning where we remove all the plaque and tartar from the teeth with special dental tools, polish them, apply fluoride, and take x-rays. These X-rays examine both the visible tooth crown and the hidden root under the gums. Often, there are dental issues invisible to our eyes that the X-rays can detect, particularly in cats. Therefore, it's crucial to take these X-rays during the dental cleaning to ensure we're not ignoring or leaving behind diseased teeth.

What are some types of dental care at home?

You can add water additives to your cat's water, provide dental chews, or even brush their teeth if they allow it. I recommend finger brushes and cat-specific toothpaste. Avoid adult human toothpaste due to its fluoride content, which cats can swallow. You could use fluoride-free infant toothpaste, but ensure it's not sugar-free.

What are some signs and symptoms of oral health issues in cats?

You may notice tartar and plaque, most commonly appearing first on the top molars at the back. You may have to pull back the gum to see these teeth. Other symptoms include gingivitis characterized by red and inflamed gums, difficulties eating, excessive drooling, foul odor from the mouth, irritability due to pain, and swellings under the eyes due to abscesses in the roots of the upper molars.

How do you diagnose dental problems in cats?

We diagnose dental issues in cats through an oral exam, either awake or sedated. Once sedated, we conduct a thorough oral exam by probing under each tooth, taking pocket measurements, and taking full X-rays of all the teeth with every dental cleaning. Cats often have resorptive lesions, similar to cavities, where the enamel is being eroded under the gum line. These are very painful and often caused by autoimmune diseases or infections. When we find these lesions, we have to pull the tooth.

What happens after pulling a cat's tooth due to resorptive lesions?

Cats are often happier without their diseased teeth than with them. Some cats stop eating due to the pain, but after a dental procedure where we pull most of their teeth, they wake up and start eating again because it's less painful to eat with stitches and fresh incisions than with diseased, infected teeth.

What are some conditions caused by poor dental care?

Poor dental care can affect many organ systems in a cat's body. It can impact their ability to eat, leading to weight loss. Bacteria under diseased teeth can enter the bloodstream and cause heart issues like myocarditis or even kidney problems. Overall, poor dental care can lead to poor overall health in the pet.

How often do cats need professional dental care?

Each cat is different, but typically, cats need a dental check every one to two years. Some may need more frequent checks, especially if we're seeing evidence of resorptive lesions. These lesions can be detected by a very reddened gum line or the gum growing over the tooth in cats. We check the pet's teeth with all our exams, especially our annual exams.

What are the methods of pain control used when pulling teeth?

When we have to pull teeth, we use adequate pain control methods. We apply a topical pain medicine called Zorbium, do nerve blocks on all areas where we're pulling the teeth, which gives up to six to eight hours of pain control. We also send home some anti-inflammatories and usually an antibiotic if they're having teeth pulled or have infected teeth to make the mouth healthier.

If you have any other questions, please give us a call at (704) 827-0616. You can also email us at [email protected] and we will get back to you as soon as we are able. Don't forget to follow us on social media: Facebook and Instagram