Dental and Oral Health Care for Cats

Cats seem to enjoy snuggling.  Animal Dentistry and Oral Surgery Specialists try to give cats comfortable resting places to lower their stress.

Cats have teeth too!

If you are told you cat needs a "dental", what exactly does that mean?

Cats deserve a diagnosis and sometimes treatment plans to correct any problems.

We encourage all cat owners to ask questions before you have a "dental" performed!

Cats are very unique animals

Cats are absolutely not small dogs.  They act, behave and think differently.  We respect their differences.  We treat them specially not only because of their unique qualities, but because Dr. Kressin loves cats!

Cats are carnivores (meat eaters) and their teeth serve a useful function.  Teeth can also create painful problems for cats.  You can be assured that cats will try very hard to hide their pain.  Many cats tend to hide when they experience pain.  Since cat owners don't understand cat language very well, they frequently fail to recognize their cats have pain.  Chronic pain is a real shame!  We can help with recognition, diagnosis and treatment of painful teeth (such as
tooth resorption or fractured teeth) and oral diseases (such as stomatitis).  Feline Orofacial Pain Syndrome is one of the most terrible painful conditions for cats and we are here to help them as well!

Teeth can be assets (useful and functional) or liabilities (painful).  Our goal is to identify teeth that are causing problems and to transform them to useful functional teeth.  Extraction (or removal) of teeth are a last resort treatment; however dental extraction may be necessary for some cats.

How do we establish a diagnosis?

Diagnosis of dental and oral diseases in cats requires historical information, a thorough physical exam including a comprehensive oral exam and a meticulous evaluation under anesthesia.  We prefer to use a feline dental chart as a check off list while under anesthesia.  The cat's teeth are typically carefully cleaned by ultrasonic (and hand) scaling and followed with polishing and rinsing.  Dental radiographs and periodontal probing are performed and notations are mad on the dental chart.  The diagnosis and treatment plan are formulated using all of this information.  Historical information from the owner with medical information from the family veterinarian (referral form) can be extremely helpful!  This process to establish a diagnosis is what sets Animal Dentistry and Oral Surgery Specialists, LLC apart from all the rest of veterinarian providers.  We call this COHAT

Incisional or excisional biopsies are submitted to a pathologist to establish a diagnosis for oral tumors or oral disease.  It is never beneficial to wait when oral lesions are identified.

How do we decide the best treatment?

Dental and oral surgery consultations are designed to help determine the best treatment based on an initial oral exam and a discussion of the owners' concerns.

Diagnosis is essential for making treatment plan decisions.  To establish a diagnosis, dental radiographs with periodontal probing are absolutely necessary.  Two thirds of the tooth is below the gumline (gingiva) and is not viewable without dental radiographs.  Dental radiographs are of higher detail than general radiographs.  This detail allows an accurate diagnosis of dental tissues.  Dental radiographs are taken periodically for cats as they are for our own teeth to monitor and identify problems early.  When teeth are scaled and polished, the area around the teeth is probed to identify (diagnose) pockets (periodontal).  Periodontal pockets are diagnostic for
periodontal disease.  The best treatment is based on the degree or stage of
periodontal disease.

Do dogs get stomatitis?

Dogs unfortunately also get stomatitis.  The condition is often referred to as chronic ulcerative paradental stomatitis ( "CUPS" or kissing lesions").  To read additional information see "CUPS".

Right lower jaw of a cat with a supernumerary root of the fourth premolar tooth.Dental radiograph shows the supernumerary root of the fourth premolar tooth #408.

Felix; sensor placement right side   Dental radiograph

Digital sensor placed intraorally to obtain a dental radiograph (X-Ray) of a cat's right lower jaw (mandible).

In viewing the above photo (left), the gums appear healthy and normal however in viewing the radiograph (right), moderate (stage 2 of 4) periodontal disease is present as well as an extra root for the premolar tooth in the center.  This simple illustration demonstrates the inability to make a diagnosis or to establish the optimal treatment for this cat without dental radiographs.

Upper incisor view of an uncomfortable cat. Notice the discolored incisors.

Melissa, a 7 year, female Domestic Shorthair cat with
oral discomfort!

X-ray demonstrates a periodontal probe in a soft tissue defect. Animal Dentistry and Oral Surgery Specialists, LLC.

Dental radiograph of Melissa while periodontal
probing of her inflammed oral tissues.

This cat Melissa presented in distress at the Animal Emergency Center in Milwaukee.  She was pawing at her face, drooling and crying.  In viewing the photo (top photo) the reason for her distress was unclear.  In viewing the radiograph (above image), significant abnormalities were diagnosed and appropriate surgical care was provided.  Melissa is doing very well today thanks to dental x rays, periodontal probing, appropriate treatment planning and meticulous surgical care.

Inflamation due to dental crowding. Animal Dentistry and Oral Surgery Specialists, LLC

Felix, photograph of the left side with inflammation and bleeding.

Anomalous (abnormal) teeth with severe periodontal disease.
This is the same patient as shown above with the extra tooth root and
moderate periodontal disease.

X ray denonstrates supernumerary root and severe crestal bone loss due to periodontal disease. Animal Dentistry and Oral Surgery Specialists, LLC.

Felix; left side.  Severe (stage 4 of 4) periodontal disease
is associated with the anomalous tooth.