CATS DENTISTRY

By The Veterinary Dentist

Cats dentistry

Regularly check your cat's teeth

There are two common disease found in the mouth of cats: tooth resorption and chronic inflammatory disease.

Tooth resorption is found in 25-75% of cats depending on the population being examined. There are two types of tooth resorption, each of which has a number of stages: in the first type tooth tissue is resorbed (dissolved and removed) and not replaced by bone and the affected teeth must be extracted for effective treatment. If the tooth is broken and the pulp is exposed, it must be treated, either by extraction or root canal treatment. In the other form of tooth resorption, the tooth substance is removed and it is replaced by bone. In these cases the crowns often break off and the gum can heal over the bone, however shards of enamel may remain which puncture the gum and cause pain especially during eating. Where the roots have been resorbed and replaced by bone, the treatment is to amputate the crown and stitch the gum closed to pre-empt it breaking off and causing pain. There is no medical treatment for tooth resorption, however, tooth brushing can reduce the prevalence of the first type. Keeping the teeth free of plaque will keep the gums healthy, reducing inflammation at the neck of the tooth.

Feline inflammatory oral disease is found to varying degrees in more than 70% of cats, depending on the population being examined. The mildest form of the disease affects the gums only and it can be resolved by brushing the cat’s teeth. More extensive forms affect the mucous membranes covering the jaws and inside of the mouth and cheeks. In very severe cases the whole mouth can be affected and with the back of the throat also affected. In the severe forms of this disease, all of the teeth behind the canines must be extracted and this will result in about 75% of the cats recovering completely within about 2 months. A further about 15% of cats will require ongoing treatment before they recover and about 10% will not heal and will require life-long ongoing treatment to minimise the inflammation and discomfort. There is a new medication being used in cats that have had all their teeth extracted but have not healed completely. The lactoferrin based oral spray is yielding good results.

Read More about tooth resorption

The 6 grades of dental disease

Grade 1
Daily home care

There is no visible plaque or calculus and the gingiva is not inflamed
No professional treatment is required but daily home care, including brushing of the teeth should be performed.

Grade 2
Daily home care

There is visible plaque but no visible calculus. The margin of the gingiva may be inflamed but does not exceed Grade 1 gingivitis.
No professional treatment is required but daily home care, including brushing of the teeth should be performed.

Grade 3
Professional treatment required

There is visible plaque and calculus and the gingiva bleeds when touched (Gingivitis Grade 2).
Professional treatment is required. Your pet will need to be given a general anaesthetic and have a tube placed in the airways to protect them from the fluids and debris generated during the cleaning process. Plaque may not be visible with the naked eye, but will be present and is removed during the polishing process.
Daily dental home care, including brushing of the teeth should be performed.

Grade 4
Professional treatment required

There is visible plaque and calculus, the gums bleed when touched and the gum may have pulled away from the teeth (receded) in places.
Professional treatment is required. Your pet will need to be given a general anaesthetic and have a tube placed in the airways to protect them from the fluids and debris generated during the cleaning process.
Daily dental home care, including brushing of the teeth should be performed.

Grade 5
Professional treatment required

There is substantial generalised plaque and calculus and the gums bleed when touched. The gums have receded in places and there may be bone loss as well. Some teeth may be mobile. Your pet will need to be given a general anaesthetic and have a tube placed in the airways to protect them from the fluids and debris generated during the cleaning process. Some teeth may need to be extracted because of the severity of the periodontitis. Where teeth are extracted, the gums will usually be sutured closed to aid rapid healing.
Daily dental home care, including brushing of the teeth should be performed.

Grade 6
Urgent professional intervention required

There is extensive generalised plaque and calculus and the gums bleed when touched. The gums have receded in places and there is bone loss as well. Numerous teeth are loose. Your pet will need to be given a general anaesthetic and have a tube placed in the airways to protect them from the fluids and debris generated during the cleaning process. Some teeth may need to be extracted because of the severity of the periodontitis. Where teeth are extracted, the gums will usually be sutured closed to aid rapid healing.
Daily dental home care, including brushing of the teeth should be performed.

Oral cancer in cats

The most common oral cancer in cats is squamous cell carcinoma (SCC). This is a very severe disease, which if not diagnosed and treated very early, will be fatal. All unusual looking tissue should be sampled and sent to the laboratory to determine the cause. When found very early, the cancer can be cut out and this may be curative. Oral SCC in cats is associated with smokers in the same household! Other forms of oral cancer include: lymphosacroma, osteosarcoma, fibrosarcoma and the benign acanthomatous ameloblastoma which is cured by surgical removal. If in doubt, please have your veterinary surgeon examine you cat’s mouth, sooner rather than later.

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