Tagged with " cavities"

Tough Talk About Teeth

Jan 17, 2013 by     3 Comments    Posted under: Tips & Advice

Can you imagine what your mouth would look like if you went 35 or so years without brushing your teeth?  I suspect you wouldn’t be having a second career as the “kissing bandit,” and you’d probably also be in the market for some good denture adhesive.  “Tuna breath” isn’t necessarily a term of endearment!

Most of us don’t feel right if we haven’t brushed our teeth at least once a day…but what if we’re a cat without any access to a tooth brush, floss and toothpaste? What would that feel like?

If your cat has gone more than 6 years without a cleaning, that’s the human equivalent of not brushing for 35 years.  Yuck!

I saw an absolutely beautiful cat named Rufus last year, and just like his name implies he had a very fluffy and foxlike orange coat, which he clearly fastidiously groomed and kept in tip-top shape.  He was in for a regular check up, and during his physical exam, I noticed that he had some inflammation along the gum line and a little tartar and plaque build up.  His parents and I talked about getting him in for a dental cleaning procedure, and at age 4 he was actually a little older than the typical age when we start to do cleanings.  Anyway, life got in the way for Rufus and his owners, and that cleaning appointment got rescheduled, and rescheduled again, and then finally forgotten.

Fast forward to last month, and beautiful Rufus was in for his annual exam.  He’d lost about a pound, which to put into perspective is about 10 pounds or so for us, and his previously shiny and gorgeous coat was looking a little ragged and matted.  Rufus also was accompanied by a pronounced and fairly nauseating odor, which was centered around his mouth.

Sweet Rufus cried when I opened his mouth to check things out, and what I saw was a real testimonial to the power of time.  His gums were red and angry, and had receded from his teeth to such an extent that the roots were visible.  The tartar and plaque I’d noticed last year had significantly worsened, and there were visible cavities surrounded by swollen gums.  Most ominously, the back of his throat was fiery red and obviously sensitive.  His folks reported that Rufus was hesitant chewing food and swallowing seemed an effort.  In fact, they thought he was spending much less time grooming himself than he usually did, and mouth pain seemed the likely culprit.  All in all, he had changed from a vibrant and happy youngster into a hesitant, stand-offish individual.

Could this be fixed?  Clearly, we needed to try something to see if we could stop Rufus’s deterioration and distress.  First step was scheduling Rufus for an in-depth evaluation of his mouth while he was under anesthesia—this hurt way to much to even consider doing the probing while he was conscious!  Second step was using medicines to manage his pain and discomfort until we could fully address his problems during his dental procedure.  This time there was no hesitation—Rufus got his appointment secured—stat!

The morning of his oral surgery, Rufus was anesthetized and bundled up into a warming blanket as a breathing tube was eased down into his throat.  What I saw when I slid my dental probe into the junction between his teeth and his gum line was shocking.  Basically, all the necessary attachments between the tooth roots and the bone were missing.  X-rays confirmed that the resulting bone loss was so severe that it could not be reversed. These teeth could not be saved.  His gums were so inflamed and irritated that even a gentle touch was enough to create bleeding, and there were several pockets of active infection.  No wonder our poor boy didn’t want to eat!

Cats have 30 teeth, 12 of which are those tiny teeth in between the big fangs.  This is just a few more than we humans have.  Most of us don’t want to lose our teeth and false teeth are only a last resort when all else fails.  So even thinking about removing most of Rufus’s teeth just didn’t sit well with his parents.  But did we have options?

I know cats feel better and are happier when their mouths don’t hurt them.  But what I saw when I probed Rufus’s teeth meant we had a situation where our only solution was radical.  What I was proposing was the extraction of every single one of his 30 teeth.  Was this too extreme?  Could he eat?  Would he look funny?

Reluctantly, Rufus’s parents gave the OK and we began the long process of gently and thoroughly removing every single tooth he had, down to the last root tip. We also surgically biopsied a small piece of tissue at the center of the worst area of inflammation, to try and make sure that the swelling and redness wasn’t caused by anything potentially aggressive, such as a cancer.  This kind of dental surgery takes time, and my staff made sure Rufus was kept warm and hydrated, and that his pain medications never ran out.

Hours later, Rufus was in the recovery stage of the procedure, and wrapped in enough warm towels to make any self-respecting cat happy!  So far, so good.  But what could we expect in the days and weeks to come?

Continue to Tough Talk About Teeth – Part 2

Dr Cathy Lund

Cathy Lund, DVM, owns and operates City Kitty Veterinary Care for Cats, a cat practice located in Providence, RI. She is also the board president and founder of the Companion Animal Foundation, a statewide, veterinary-based nonprofit organization that helps low-income pet owners afford essential veterinary care. She lives in Providence, and serves on several architectural and preservation commissions in the city, and is on the board of directors of WRNI, RI’s own NPR station. But her favorite activity is to promote the countless virtues of the “purr-fect” pet, the cat!

City Kitty
18 Imperial Pl # 1B
Providence, RI 02903-4642

Phone: (401) 831-6369
Email: email@city-kitty.com

Website: http://www.city-kitty.com/
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Dental Problems

Jun 9, 2011 by     1 Comment     Posted under: Tips & Advice

Have you or someone you loved ever had problems with their teeth? Dental pain from abscesses, tooth fractures and deep cavities can make life miserable for anyone, including our cats. Pain can be sharp and stabbing, a dull ache, or associated with pressure on contact with hot or cold foods.

Our cats can’t tell us when their mouths hurt. Instead, they may eat less, refuse hard kibbles, or tilt their head back and forth to avoid the sensitive spots when eating. They may drop food. Chronic pain can cause your friendly and happy cat to become irritable or reclusive.

I rechecked one of our dentistry patients today after he had some major dental work done last week. This wonderful cat, who we will call Oscar, was brought in to see us because he had not been as interactive as usual and was hiding quite a bit. On physical examination, we could see that Oscar had quite a bit of inflammation in his mouth but no obvious fractures of his teeth. Oscar seemed uncomfortable when his mouth was examined. We scheduled Oscar’s dental teeth cleaning for the next day.

Cats frequently develop cavity lesions at the gum line or underneath the gums. Consequently, obtaining dental X rays is very important to evaluate every cat’s mouth. Any dental work in cats and dogs needs to be performed under anesthesia as they will not sit there and open their mouths for us to work on!

Oscar had 2 abscessed teeth (both of his lower canine teeth) and 3 additional teeth with large cavity lesions. All 5 teeth had to be extracted. Oscar was treated with antibiotics and pain medication.

At today’s follow up examination, Oscar is now pain free. He is eating his dry kibble with gusto and is no longer painful when handling his mouth. Oscar’s extraction sites are healing well. Oscar’s family is amazed that he is now back to his normal social self less than a week after major extractions were performed. Oscar is a great example of how important good dental health is for our cats. Oscar will now be having his teeth brushed and will be eating a prescription dental diet to help prevent future problems. What are doing to help your cat’s teeth? Oscar says to have your cat’s teeth evaluated by your veterinarian now!

Dr Tammy Sadek

Dr Tammy Sadek is board certified in Feline Practice by the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners. Dr Sadek graduated at the top of her veterinary class at the University Of Minnesota College Of Veterinary Medicine. She has practiced feline medicine and surgery for over 25 years. Dr Sadek is the owner and founder of two cat hospitals in the Grand Rapids, MI area, the Kentwood Cat Clinic and the Cat Clinic North.

In addition to her cat hospitals, Dr Sadek hosts a website www.litterboxguru.com dedicated to helping cat owners prevent and correct litter box issues along with other behavioral issues with their pets.

Dr Sadek is the author of several chapters in the book Feline Internal Medicine Secrets. Her professional interests include senior cat care, internal medicine, feline behavior, and dermatology.

Dr Sadek is currently owned by 5 cats. In addition to caring for all her feline friends, Dr Sadek enjoys traveling, jewelry making, reading fantasy and science fiction, and gardening. She lives in Grand Rapids with her husband and two soon to fledge children.

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