Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Feline Dental Disease, by Dr. Holly Kiernicki

Cat brushing teeth
Photo by Itchmo
Cats build plaque and tartar on their teeth just like people do and can lead to significant dental disease. Clinical signs can range from halitosis to severe discomfort leading to health issues.  Painful cats may salivate, paw at their mouth or grind their teeth.  Others will stop eating all together leading to weight loss and associated medical concerns such as hepatic lipidosis (fatty liver syndrome).

Some cats just have dirty teeth that need a prophylactic cleaning (dental scale and polish) to return to a healthy mouth.  Other cats have an immune reaction that causes gingivitis, stomatitis and tooth loss.  These lesions can be extremely painful and need to be addressed immediately.

Gingivitis is a reddening of the gums due to the bacteria present in the plaque and tartar.  A more severe form, or later stage, is stomatitis, where the entire mouth is reddened and inflamed.  Some cats will show no signs of gingivitis or stomatitis but will have resorptive lesions.  These lesions are not true cavities.  They are areas of the tooth that are being removed by cells that typically help resorb the roots of the primary, or baby teeth, as they are lost.  The trigger mechanism is not known but the effect is commonly noted on exam.  It starts as a small, sensitive spot on the enamel, above or below the gum line, that eventually causes the crown to fall off and the roots are left behind.

Good oral exams done at annual visits detect the majority of feline dental disease.  A dental cleaning is recommended with any amount of tartar present as there can be lesions above the gum line that are not visible without probing and/or dental xrays.  Once everything is cleaned up and healed, timing of exams can be determined by your veterinarian to help keep Kitty’s mouth looking and smelling fresh.

Article Written by Holly Kiernicki, DVM

Dr. Holly Kiernicki
Lap of Love Veterinary Hospice
(972) 843-1186

Dr. Holly services the greater Dallas, Texas area including:
~ Frisco ~ Denton ~ Allen ~ Fairview ~ Dallas ~ McKinney ~Celina ~ Little Elm ~ Plano ~ The Colony ~ Carrollton ~ Heath ~ Prosper ~ Richardson ~ Rowlett ~ Wylie ~ Garland ~ Mesquite ~ Rockwall ~ Highland Park

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