Dental Cleaning in Cats
Your cat should be visiting your veterinarian once a year, at minimum, for a wellness examination, dental examination, as well as teeth cleaning and polishing to remove tartar and invisible plaque from all tooth surfaces.
For proper dental care, your cat must be placed under general anesthesia. Your veterinarian will examine your pet for underlying health conditions and perform pre-anesthetic blood tests prior to your cat's professional dental cleaning in order to ensure that your cat's kidney and liver functions are satisfactory for anesthesia. Sometimes, antibiotic treatment is prescribed in advance.
Once your cat is closely monitored under general anesthesia, your veterinarian and veterinary technicians will more thoroughly examine the mouth, noting abnormalities in the medical record. Dental x-rays will be examined and a dental probe will be used to evaluate gum bleeding and periodontal pockets, where food can accumulate.
Next, tooth scaling will be performed, using both hand and ultrasonic scalers, to remove tartar above and below the gum line. The tartar below the gum line causes the most significant periodontal disease, so it is important that it be thoroughly removed. After scaling, the teeth are polished to decrease the rate of subsequent plaque build-up and make the teeth sparkle. Special applications such as antibiotic preparations and cleaning compounds may be used to decrease tooth sensitivity, strengthen enamel, treat bacterial infection, and reduce future plaque accumulations. When periodontal disease is advanced, it may not be possible to save badly affected teeth, which may need to be extracted.
The procedures your cat may require will be discussed with you before his or her dental cleaning; however, it can be difficult to predict the extent of dental disease in advance of the procedure Therefore, it is imperative that your veterinarian be able to reach you during the procedure to discuss any additional treatment that may be necessary.
Home Dental Care
Plaque and tartar begin forming in as little as six hours after your cat's dental cleaning. A home dental program including regular tooth brushing is recommended. Your veterinarian will provide you with instructions on how to brush or rinse your cat's teeth. Plaque and tartar accumulation can be decreased by rubbing a Q-tip along the gum line daily.
Do not attempt to use a human scaler to remove tartar at home. You cannot remove the tartar below the gum line in this way and it is neither safe nor possible to clean the inner surfaces of teeth properly in a conscious cat, no matter how extremely cooperative he or she may be. Further, the use of any instrument on the tooth enamel will cause microscopic scratches on the tooth surface and will ultimately damage the tooth surface, leading to further disease.
Absolutely do NOT use human dentifrice or toothpaste in cats or dogs. Human teeth cleaning detergents contain ingredients that are not intended to be swallowed and can cause internal problems if they are swallowed. Human products also commonly contain higher levels of salt which can be a problem for some cats. You should also avoid baking soda to clean your cat's teeth. Baking soda has a high alkaline content and, if swallowed, it can upset the acid balance in the stomach and digestive tract. Additionally, baking soda doesn't taste good, which may lead to uncooperative behavior when you attempt to brush his or her teeth.
If you use a product that tastes good, your cat will be more likely to enjoy the experience. There are numerous pet toothpastes available which are non-foaming, safe to be swallowed and available in flavors appealing to cats. Additionally , many of these pet-friendly toothpastes contain enzymes that are designed to help break down plaque chemically, which reduces the time you need to actually spend brushing your cat's teeth. Ahwatukee Animal care Hospital's retail area stocks several pet toothpastes. Please consult with your veterinarian about which toothpaste is best suited for your particular cat.
This information is not a replacement for a dental consultation with your veterinarian.
If you have any questions or concerns regarding your cat's health or dental health, please call us (480) 893-0533.
Call us to set up your cat's annual dental examination and cleaning today!
For additional information on dental and oral care, dentistry at Ahwatukee Animal Care Hospital, and brushing your pet's teeth, please click on the links to our corresponding pages.