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Dental Disease

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by Arnold Plotnick MS, DVM, ACVIM, ABVP

Introduction

Dental disease is the most common disease among pets.  In fact, the majority of cats aged over five years have some form of dental disease, ranging from mild gingivitis to painful tooth abscesses and resorptive lesions (the feline version of a “cavity”).  Dental disorders are painful, and can lead to other illnesses such as liver disease, kidney infections, and heart damage.  Unfortunately, dental problems can go unnoticed by pet owners.  If a dental problem becomes pronounced, your cat’s ability to eat is hindered and eating may become painful.

Your Primary Concern for Your Cat’s Health

A number of serious problems can develop that can jeopardize your cat’s health and happiness.  Plaque, the bacteria-laden film that coats your cat’s teeth, exudes toxic waste products and enzymes that break down gum tissue.  This can lead to periodontal disease – the inflammation of the tissues that surround the teeth.  Another common problem is osteoclastic resorptive lesions.  The surface of the tooth becomes eroded, usually at the junction between the gum and the tooth.  They are similar to “cavities” in people, although these erosions are technically not cavities since they’re not caused by bacteria.  Initially, these erosions are not painful, however, as they get deeper, the nerve inside the tooth may become affected, causing significant pain.  In advanced cases, the cat may stop eating and drinking.  Extraction is often necessary.

Endangering Internal Organs

Dental disease in cats is cause for heightened concern due to the potential damage to internal organs that may develop.  The kidneys are particularly susceptible.  Bacteria and toxins contained in dental tartar can shower the kidneys.  This is worrisome, as feline kidneys are subject to a number of age-related changes which can result in impaired kidney function or failure.  Additional stress on a cat’s kidneys can be caused by the bacteria and toxins released into the bloodstream resulting from plaque buildup.  This can accelerate kidney deterioration and shorten your cat’s lifespan.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Extra Protection

You can safeguard your cat’s health by providing for regular dental prophylaxis.  High-quality professional dental cleaning equipment and techniques are used, similar to your own dentist.  Thorough feline dental prophylaxis requires that your cat be anesthetized.  At Manhattan Cat Specialists, we perform blood tests to make certain that all body organs are functioning properly so that your cat can be anesthetized safely.  An EKG machine and a pulse oximeter are hooked up to your cat to monitor heart and lung function during the dental procedure.  Dental prophylaxis involves examining each tooth, scaling to remove all plaque and tartar, polishing and smoothing the surface of the tooth to reduce future plaque buildup, and if necessary, extraction of diseased teeth.  Your cat also receives fluoride treatment, pain medication during the procedure, antibiotics, and pain medication to be given at home.

Benefits Can Be Dramatic

Providing proper dental care for your cat can protect him from pain and serious illness.  Your cat will have fresh breath, be more comfortable eating, and enjoy his meals more.  He will have the opportunity to enjoy better health and live a long and happier life.

Brushing Your Cat's Teeth - Video

       

Updated 2/9/06