What is involved in cat dental care?

General cat dental care is a pretty wide topic. When you first bring your little kitten home, and you are looking to take care of your baby kitten's teeth, you should ideally be starting your kitten in a routine of dental care, which is brushing its teeth. That doesn't happen as often as we like in the real world because it's just hard to fit into your daily routine of taking care of your cat. What usually happens next is you bring your cat in for a general health evaluation, but sometimes it's a sick visit. As part of our general health exam, we, as veterinarians, will look at their teeth during their visit. I have a little cat under this bed, so I'd like to see if I can demonstrate how we look at a cat's teeth. This is our patient Fritz, and I don't know if you can see him. You know what, he's not a very good model today.

Dr. Noël Lucas
Blue Oasis Pet Hospital

How does dental health impact the overall health and well-being of my cat?

Dental health is extremely important to a cat's overall health. Think about it this way. The mouth is just full of bacteria, and over time that bacteria, plaque, and tarter start to come together and solidify on the teeth. If it's left there long enough, it will start to cause inflammation along the gum line and erode into the tissue space around the tooth called the periodontal ligament space. It then gets into the root system. This is an invasive process, a disease process, and it will cause discomfort for your pet and potentially affect its general quality of life and organs. It often goes undetected by pet parents because this is a silent disease, and cats don't easily show you signs of oral health problems at home.

How do veterinarians diagnose dental problems in cats?

We need to see your pet and look in their mouth. We're looking for the same thing that you and I should have in our, in our mouth. We should have bright pearly white teeth and healthy-looking gums. If we don't see those, we often see the development of calculus, which is a yellow discoloring of the teeth. We'll start to see an inflammatory response along the gum line called gingivitis. We also sometimes smell what their breath smells like. Stinky breath is called halitosis, and you can sometimes detect it when they're sitting next to you while grooming themselves. That stink is coming from their mouths and the saliva they create. Stinkiness is caused by dental disease.

What types of dental care should I be giving my cat at home?

I love that question. It's challenging to have dental care at home for your pet cat. They often don't like you being up in their mouth, but I still need to encourage people to brush their cat's teeth ideally every day because it is the best way to maintain good oral health. A wonderful website called The Veterinary Oral Health Council dot org, VOHC.org, has a full list of products like Greenies cat chews and essential healthy mouth water additives. We also have dental diets for cats that help keep their teeth clean. These are some ways that you can use home care products to keep your pet's teeth clean and prevent diseases in the first place between visits with your veterinary dentist.

If you still have other questions and you'd like to reach out to us, you can call us directly at (615) 975-2583, you can email us, or you can reach out on social media. But please do reach out, and we'll get back to you as fast as we can.

Cat Dentistry - FAQs

Dr. Noël Lucas
Blue Oasis Pet Hospital

Is there anything I can do to help my cat prepare for a dental appointment?

Yes, you can. You can let us know if your cat is apprehensive and scared when it comes into the pet hospital. We can prescribe your pet some calming medications so that when they come in for their dental appointment, they're already premedicated, which helps us, them, and you feel more comfortable when they come in for a general anesthesia appointment.

Why does my cat need anesthesia for teeth cleaning?

When we do teeth cleaning, we use a lot of water and a dental x-ray unit, so we need your pet to be very still during its cleaning so that we can do a thorough assessment. So that means general anesthesia is needed.

Who monitors my cat while under anesthesia?

General anesthesia is very scary for us, but we do it very routinely. We know that monitoring is part of the safety of general anesthesia. The doctor that's overseeing your cat while it's here for dental care will be overseeing anesthesia along with a trained pet nurse and a wonderful electronic monitor. So there are about three different ways we're monitoring your pet under anesthesia.

Will my cat be getting radiographs taken?

Yes, radiographs are incredibly important. We want to see what's under the gum line, and I cannot see under there without an x-ray. Full mouth dental x-rays are part of every cat's dental cleaning appointment.

Will my cat be intubated to have the dental work done?

Intubation is where we put a little tube down a pet's throat, specifically their airway so that we can protect their lungs. We want to deliver anesthesia straight into their lungs and ensure that all the fluids we use for cleaning are not going into their lungs. So intubation is necessary for this.

How long does a cat dental appointment take?

A cat dental appointment can take anywhere from one hour to up to three hours. It depends on what we find. We sometimes have no idea what we're going to get into when we go into the mouth for cleaning. That's why we want to do a full assessment and do x-rays, and when we uncover problems, we want to have time to deal with those problems. So a dental cleaning just takes as long as it takes.

If my cat needs extractions, will pain medication be given to me?

With extractions, we actually remove a tooth. From our own dental health experiences, we all know that our teeth can hurt when they're damaged or extracted. So we want to make sure that your pet's pain is very well managed. Little Fritz here will have a dental procedure with us this afternoon. He's already had some narcotic medication, so he's feeling very good. If we do extractions, we'll do local nerve blocks on him, which is almost like Novocaine for you and I, so that when he wakes up, he'll be nice and numb. We're also going to use some anti-inflammatories, which we'll send home with Fritz if he needs any extractions. Pain management is very important here at Blue Oasis, and we take it very seriously.

If you still have other questions and you'd like to reach out to us, you can call us directly at (615) 975-2583, you can email us, or you can reach out on social media. But please do reach out, and we'll get back to you as fast as we can.