Why is dental care important for my cat?

  • Cats are prone to a serious and very painful dental disease called ‘tooth resorption.’ This condition was previously referred to as ‘feline oral resorptive lesions’ (FORLs). Various studies have found 28-67% of cats have tooth resorption. Tooth resorption is the most common cause of tooth loss in the cat and is considered to be a painful condition.
  • Gum and teeth disease can lead to other infections such as endocarditis (heart valve infection) and kidney infections.

Why does my cat need to be sedated for a dental prophy?

Sedation is required since we can’t ask cats to “open wide.” Sedation also allows us to do a much more thorough job below the gum line, which, although unable to be seen, is where most of the real problem is located. The part of the tooth under the gum line must be cleaned, as well as the exposed portion to really help the cat long-term. Our sedatives and pain medications are chosen with your cat’s utmost safety in mind, and are dictated by age, weight, and physical condition.

Why does my cat need bloodwork before the dental procedure?

In order to minimize the risks associated with anesthesia, we require that all cats undergo some basic blood testing to identify potential problems that may complicate anesthesia or may warrant our doctors to postpone the procedure if they deem it necessary. This testing allows our veterinarians to check kidney and liver function, screen for diabetes, and evaluate for anemia. Cats over the age of 10 may require additional testing, such as a thyroid hormone level test. In addition, cats over the age of 6 undergo a blood heart test that screens for possible heart disease and heart enlargement. Our veterinarians take the results of all these tests into account and tailor a specific anesthetic protocol for your cat.

What does the dental procedure include?

All of our dental prophies include:

  • Full-mouth digital dental x-rays: Dental radiographs are one of the most important diagnostic tools we have access to. They allow the internal anatomy of the teeth, the roots, and the bone that surrounds the roots to be examined.
  • Scaling of the teeth: Removes tartar above and below the gumline using both hand instruments and ultrasonic cleaning equipment
  • Polishing: Smooths the surface of the teeth after scaling to prevent rapid plaque accumulation
  • Fluoride: Decreases teeth sensitivity, strengthens enamel, has some antibacterial effects, and decreases the rate of future plaque formation.
  • Ora-Vet: This gel is applied to the teeth after the cleaning to help seal the teeth and prevent future plaque formation and bacteria from adhering to the surface of the teeth.

Will my cat need any teeth extracted? What can I expect after my cat comes home?

Sometimes our veterinarians may have already identified a fractured tooth or teeth with resorptive lesions that require extraction at the time of the exam. Sometimes we find problems only after we have taken x-rays and probed the teeth with the cat sedated. This is a reason we can’t truly predict what to expect as far as extractions go until we are in the dental procedure. We always provide an estimate of potential costs ahead of time and try to be as accurate as possible. If extractions are necessary, a local block (similar to what our dentist does when they give us Novocaine) is performed for added pain control. Antibiotics are dispensed after the procedure to prevent infections at the extraction sites as well as additional pain medications to go home with for a couple days. A therapeutic laser treatment is always performed after extractions to help speed healing, reduce pain and inflammation, and treat infection. Your cat will go home with instructions to feed canned food for a couple weeks if extractions were performed. A dental recheck appointment with one of our nurses is included and recommended 2 weeks after the dental procedure.