Dental problems are the most common disease that we see in cats. They can lead to bad breath, swollen and bleeding gums, loose teeth, oral pain, and difficulty eating. Cats are secretive by nature, and it can be difficult to tell if a cat is experiencing oral discomfort. Occasionally, cats will reveal that the mouth is hurting by pawing at their mouths, drooling, or deliberately turning their heads to one side as they eat, to avoid chewing on the side of the mouth that’s painful. Some cats will completely stop eating due to dental pain. Others may stop eating dry food and only eat wet food. This is often mistaken as the cat becoming “finicky” about their food, when in actuality, they’d love to eat the dry food, but they can’t because it’s become painful to crunch.

Periodontal disease is very common in cats. Untreated, it can lead to oral pain, abscess formation, osteomyelitis (bone infection), and tooth loss. Oral bacteria can enter the bloodstream through diseased oral tissues, affecting other organs as well, most notably the heart valves and kidneys.

Periodontal disease is an inflammation of the periodontium – the tissues surrounding the teeth described above. Periodontal disease is caused by plaque – the sticky bacteria-laden coating on the tooth surface – and the body’s response to those bacteria and the toxins they release. As the immune system responds to the plaque, the gums become inflamed. This is the first phase of periodontal disease: gingivitis. As the inflammation progresses, the second phase of periodontal disease – periodontitis – occurs. Periodontitis is a condition where both soft and bony tissues are affected, and cats may develop receding gums, bone loss, and periodontal ligament damage. If not removed, plaque mineralizes into tartar (also called calculus) in a few days. Calculus requires mechanical removal.

A thorough feline dental cleaning 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.

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.

feline dentistry, dental care for cats