When a cat requires a dental, this could be a simple scale and polish or it could involve teeth being removed. Sometimes it is necessary to take an x-ray of the jaw or of individual tooth roots. Two thirds of the cats teeth are beneath the gums and not visible. Dental radiographs assist in a diagnosis and assessment of the teeth, surrounding soft tissue, joints and the bone. Dental radiographs can also reveal foreign bodies, cysts and tumours. Cats can get very specific painful conditions involving the roots that can be assessed accurately using radiography.
Your cat’s mouth can be unpleasant and difficult to assess depending on their age. Sometimes teeth are already missing or they are heavily coated with tartar.
For the dental procedure, your cat will receive a ‘general anaesthetic’ for both their own safety and comfort, as it is often painful. Because of this, we often do not know what will be involved in the dental procedure until your cat is anaesthetised. We therefore can only base estimates on the likely costs involved but they are subject to change on the day. We usually aim to overestimate to prevent any unexpected shocks, however from time to time we do need to carry out for invasive treatment than first expected. When this is the case, we will ring the client on the day to inform them.
Furthermore, we usually recommend your pet has pre anaesthetic blood tests run prior to receiving a general anaesthetic to ensure that they are fit and well. This is an additional cost and is entirely your decision. The nurse involved in admitting your cat can run through this with you and explain the costs involved.
During the procedure all teeth and gums are fully examined and notes are recorded on a dental chart. We will scale the teeth to remove plaque and bacteria, and to provide a cleaner environment within the mouth should extractions be required.
There can be many problems regarding teeth such as broken teeth, infections, abscessed, exposed roots and sometimes deciduous teeth (baby teeth) are still in place. If baby teeth have not fallen out, overcrowding can cause more food to get stuck between the teeth.
If teeth are removed, depending on the size of the root and the hole left behind, gums commonly need to be stitched.
Usually the patient will only need to be in for the day. Your cat will receive antibiotics and pain relief and may go home with further medication. Sometimes around the mouth, face and ears can look untidy as dental procedures involve lots of water and toothpaste being used to polish the teeth afterwards to smooth the surface and prevent food sticking to the teeth, we may not be able to clean around your cat’s face as he/she may be uncomfortable.
Depending on the age of your cat, they may require more than one dental during their lifetime. The best way to prevent this is ensure you have a good dental home care regime. This can include using products such as Logic Oral Gel, Oral rinses such as Hexarinse or Vet Aquadent, Plaque Off powder, dental bars, using a toothbrush and tooth paste or feeding dental diets.
A veterinary nurse or your vet can discuss all of these options with you at the post operative check and help you decide what will be most appropriate and suitable.
Sarah Middleton MRCVS