Dental Care for Seattle Cats
Routine dental care is a critical component of cats' oral and overall health, but most cats don't get the oral hygiene care they need to keep their teeth and gums healthy.
The Cat Clinic of Seattle provides complete dental care for your car from basics such as dental exams, teeth cleanings and polishing to oral surgery.
At Cat Clinic of Seattle, we follow the guidelines of the American Veterinary Dental College (AVDC) and the World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA) Global Dental Guidelines.
Cat Dental Surgery in Seattle
We understand that finding out that your cat needs dental surgery can be shocking. We strive to make this process as stress-free as possible, for you and for your cat.
We'll do everything we can to ensure your cat's experience with us is low-stress and comfortable. We'll break down each step of the process to you in detail before the procedure, including preparation and post-operative care requirements.
Cat Teeth Examinations
Cats are masters at hiding pain and can have severe oral pain without any easily observable signs of discomfort. It is not unusual for us to identify significant and painful dental disease in a cat who is eating normally and seems active.
This is just one of the many reasons why the annual awake physical examination is critical to assessing a cat’s oral health.
We prefer to diagnose oral disease well before any of the following signs of severe and chronic disease are observed:
- Bad breath
- Difficulty picking up food or toys
- Bleeding from the mouth
- Loose or broken teeth
- Jaw or face swelling
- Discolored teeth
- Assessment & Treatment
If your veterinarian identifies significant dental disease during the awake oral exam, they will recommend scheduling a general anesthetic procedure.
Periodontal disease is the most common disease affecting cats today. We can only identify periodontal disease with intra-oral radiographs (X-rays). These can only be obtained with the patient under general anesthesia.
Along with intra-oral radiographs, your cat will receive an ultrasonic scaling, and visual inspection of each tooth by a skilled veterinarian while they are under anesthesia. We use a dental explorer tool (just like your dentist does), and compare our visual exam findings with the intra-oral radiographs.
Veterinarians can only identify periodontal disease with full-mouth radiographs in conjunction with a visual inspection of each tooth.
Periodontal disease and odontoclastic resorptive lesions (tooth resorption) are common in cats. We suspect that approximately 75 % of cats over 5 years of age have teeth with resorptive lesions. The current treatment recommendation for affected teeth is surgical extraction.
Your veterinarian will discuss a treatment plan with you after the examination is completed.
Periodontal disease may be slowed with brushing at home, however, there are limited at-home preventive measures that can be taken. It is a myth that dry food knocks calculi/tarter off a cat's teeth. Dry food does NOT provide better oral health for cats.
It is very rare for us to recommend any dry food diet due to the dramatic benefits an exclusively wet food diet can have for our feline companion’s whole-body health.
The single most important preventative measure for a cat's oral health is the annual/semi-annual awake oral assessment by your skilled veterinarian.
Feline Tooth Resportions & Surgical Extraction
Tooth resorption (TR) or odontoclastic resorptive lesions are the most common dental disease we identify in cats. Approximately 75% of cats over 5 years of age have teeth with resorptive lesions.
- What causes Feline Tooth Resorptions?
As of 2020, we are still uncertain what the trigger is for developing a lesion. What we do know is that unlike a cavity, these lesions cannot be filled. The resorption starts on the inside of the tooth and works its way outward toward the crown and tooth enamel.
- What is the treatment for Feline Tooth Resorption?
By the time we can see these lesions on a physical exam, the tooth is dying and painful. The treatment recommendation for tooth resorption is always surgical extraction of the affected tooth.
- How will my cat eat without these teeth?
1. Tooth resorption (TR) is painful. Even though your cat may have been eating well before the surgery, we know from talking with people who have TR that these teeth hurt! Cats are masters at hiding pain. Removing a painful tooth and non-functioning tooth can only help make their mouth more comfortable.
2. Cats are obligate carnivores. They have teeth that are designed for hunting and killing prey. They do not chew as part of digestion as humans do. They do not have cusped molars. Our family cats are eating food out of a bowl. They do not need to hunt to survive. We have many patients with no teeth at all who live long, happy, healthy, and pain-free lives.
- What can I expect during post-operative recovery?
Whenever a surgical extraction is performed, a gingival flap is used to close the affected area. The sutures used are absorbable and will remain in place for 2-3 weeks before they dissolve. In human dentistry, surgical extraction patients are sent home with strict instructions to rinse with a special mouthwash three times daily and after eating. Of course, we cannot do this with our feline patients!
The following precautions are essential in helping your cat's mouth heal
1. Avoid hard food and chew treats. Please feed wet food only. The average-sized cat requires 200-220 Kcal/day. If your cat is refusing the canned food, you can soak the dry food in hot water and offer it softened. If your cat is refusing all food, please call us immediately.
2. Remove all toys that can be chewed. Catnip toys, feather flyers, etc. should be avoided.
3. Remove access to cardboard boxes. Many cats like to pop their teeth through cardboard boxes. This needs to be avoided during healing.
4. Be sure to carefully all post-operative instructions regarding medication and follow-up appointments.
- How do I give my cat medications after oral surgery??
Typically three different medications are sent home after oral surgery.
1. Antibiotic: This is given either once or twice daily. We recommend capsule form that is given in a Pill Pocket or a treat. The liquid is very bitter and is not well tolerated. Hiding the capsule in a Pill Pocket and allowing your cat to eat the medication on their own is optimal.
2. Probiotic: We recommend always giving a probiotic when giving an antibiotic. Purina FortiFlora SA is a powder is a very palatable powder that is added to a meal. This can help prevent the stomach upset that can occur with antibiotic therapy.
3. Pain medication: This is a very small amount of a liquid that is given in the mouth. *It cannot be put in food or a treat as it is absorbed by the lining of the mouth.
Veterinary Dentistry: Anesthesia & Your Cat's Oral Health
Cats aren't able to understand what is going on during dental procedures, and will often react to dental procedures by struggling or biting.
Similar to the anesthesia provided to nervous or anxious patients by dentists, our Seattle vets provide anesthesia to all of our patients before performing dental procedures. This puts less stress on the animals and allows us to X-ray their mouth as needed.