In a recent study 70% of cats over the age of 3 have signs of dental disease. This is a staggering amount and as you can imagine makes up a lot of what we see. Unfortunately we often see these cases when they are very severe and teeth need extracting as, they are to far gone to be saved. This is often because the signs go unnoticed. Unlike us humans they cant verbally tell us when their mouths are sore, but, like us humans they still eat even with a sore mouth. You will often see Calculus build up on teeth when they get really bad. However, this is often one of the end stages of dental disease and, there are lots of early warning signs:
- Halitosis (Bad breath).
- Tooth discoloration or visible tartar.
- Difficulty eating.
- Pawing at the teeth or mouth.
- Loose or missing teeth.
- Red, swollen or bleeding gums.
- Weight loss.
The earlier we see dental disease the more chance we have of saving the teeth.When caught early we are able to perform a Descale and Polish. This uses an ultrasonic cleaner to remove all the plaque (bad bacteria) from the teeth, before it builds up to calculus deposits.
Ginger was a stray cat brought in to us by the CPL to have a dental. The procedure: First our vets perform a full health check to ensure they are healthy enough to undergo a general anaesthetic. A lot of dental procedures are performed on older animals and so we must weigh up the risk of anaesthesia vs. not having a dental. Due to being a stray we decided to check his bloods prior to the procedure. This checks that his kidneys and liver are functioning correctly to undergo the procedure. Fortunately his bloods came back OK.
Next we will administer a Pre-med consisting of a sedative to calm and relax them and an analgesic (pain relief) to ensure they are comfortable during the procedure. The top left procedure was taken jut after administering this (fortunately he was still happy to give us head rubs after).
Next we administer the general anaesthetic and in-tubate (a tube passed down their air way) them to provide oxygen and anaesthetic gas (keep them asleep). We us a bear huger (hot air blower) to help maintain their body temperature during the procedure. The vet will then start by checking each tooth whilst we chart the findings (just like our dentists). Then we will descale the teeth (remove all the calculus and plaque). Finally any extractions that need to be undertaken will be performed. The bottom left picture shows the discoloration of the canine and you can see some of the previously missing teeth.
Over all it is vital that you check your cats mouth regularly and pick up any signs of dental disease as early as possible.