What is involved in cat dental care?

Cat dental care can involve at-home care, such as brushing the teeth. Care in our hospital requires general anesthesia to get a full evaluation of the mouth.

Dr. William Sean Penn
Horizon Animal Hospital

Are there any types of dental care I should be giving to my cat at home?

As I said, brushing their teeth is a good way to start. Usually, I try to have people start brushing their cat's teeth when they're kittens so that they get used to it.

What are some signs and symptoms of issues if my cat has oral health problems?

That's a good question. A lot of times, what we'll see is cats that have bad breath. You may see redness along the gum, and there may be loose teeth. Sometimes they'll drool, paw at their face, or eat only on one side of their mouth. Those are the key things we look for.

How do you diagnose dental problems in cats?

Diagnosing dental problems in cats requires general anesthesia so that we can fully evaluate both the outside and inside of the teeth and dental radiographs that allow us to evaluate for problems underneath the gum line. 

Cat dental at Horizon Animal Hospital

Are there any conditions that felines are prone to?

Yes. Cats have a unique condition called resorptive lesions, as we call them, which are kind of like cavities where the teeth start to erode. This can be a very painful condition, and these teeth require extraction. There are other things as well. They can have periodontal disease, which involves bone loss secondary to bacterial infection and subsequent tooth loss. They can get gingivitis, and of course, they can also have tumors and cancers in their mouth that we try to screen for when we have them fully under anesthesia.

What are possible conditions caused by poor dental care, and what can we do to treat them?

Bacteria that spread from the mouth can go to any part of the body. In fact, some of our founding fathers, like John Adams and George Washington, had lots of medical problems secondary to bad dental health. That same condition actually carries over into our little feline friends.

If you still have other questions and you'd like to reach out to us, you can call us directly at (480) 614-9500, you can email us, or you can reach out on social media. But please do reach out, and we'll get back to you as fast as we can.

Cat Dental - FAQs

Dr. Sean Penn
Horizon Animal Hospital

How often should I brush my cat's teeth?

The best thing to do is to brush the cat's teeth as often as you can. Every day is ideal, but as often as you can is certainly a good goal to achieve.

Are there any tips for making brushing my cat's teeth easier?

One of the things is, early in life, trying to get cats accustomed to touching their mouth and lifting their lip up. Those are some things that can be helpful. If that acclimation to teeth brushing has not been done prior, you can always try to give them a treat or something afterwards, making it a rewarding procedure.

Can I use human toothpaste on my cat?

Human toothpaste is not recommended for cats. Typically, they don't like mint flavorings, so we use specific toothpaste for cats that usually come in more palatable flavorings, like tuna.

Do I still need to brush my cat's teeth if I give them greenies?

Yes, chew items, like greenies, are good to help remove the tartar, but brushing the teeth provides a more abrasive action, removing some of that biofilm and the bacteria that form on the teeth.

Can cats get cavities?

Cats don't get true cavities or caries, as they're called in the human world, but they do get some lesions called odontoclastic resorptive lesions. This is a unique issue that predominantly happens with cats, which act very much like cavities where the actual tooth enamel and the dentin becomes resorbed. They can become very fragile and be painful for the cat.

Are there any chew toys that can work to also brush my cat's teeth?

There are some chew items out there. However, we focus predominantly on brushing and periodic dental cleanings through the veterinarian.

If you have any other questions about taking care of your cat's teeth, please don't hesitate to contact our office. Thank you.

If you still have other questions and you'd like to reach out to us, you can call us directly at (480) 614-9500, or you can email us at [email protected]. But please do reach out, and we'll get back to you as fast as we can. Don't forget to follow us on social media Facebook, Instagram

Cat Dental - FAQs 2

Dr. Sean Penn
Horizon Animal Hospital

Is there anything I can do to help prepare my cat for a dental appointment?

Keeping your cat healthy otherwise is probably the most important thing to do in preparation. We will certainly have guidelines and recommendations given specifically in preparation for the day of the dental.

Why does my cat need anesthesia for a dental cleaning?

Cats have very sharp teeth, and unlike humans when we're in for our dental cleanings and we keep our mouth open, cats don't know to say ah and they are not as willing and able to let us get into their mouth.

Who monitors my cat while under anesthesia?

The cat is monitored continuously while under anesthesia with equipment such as EKGs, blood pressure monitoring, pulse oximetry which measures the oxygenation. There's also a hands-on person, either the veterinary technician or the doctor, who is monitoring all the vitals and recording those during the procedure.

Will my cat be getting dental radiographs?

Absolutely, dental radiographs are of paramount importance with dental care. Just like when we go to the dentist to have our annual cleanings or biannual cleanings, the x-rays are mandatory to determine what kind of disease is going on underneath the gum line.

Will my cat be intubated to have dental work done?

Yes, we always protect the airway with an endotracheal tube or intubation. This is the tube that helps protect the airway, make sure that nothing goes down the wrong pipe, and also helps us to provide oxygen and the anesthetic gas that helps to keep the cat asleep during the procedure.

How long does a cat dental appointment take?

Dental appointments usually take at least two-thirds of the day. We usually have multiple procedures to do during a day so after they're dropped off we set up the IV catheters, do blood work if necessary, give them fluids and get them prepared for the procedure. The procedure usually lasts somewhere between 45 minutes and an hour and a half. After the procedure, they have to be recovered from anesthesia, they're monitored for a while and then they usually go home in the middle of the afternoon.

If my cat needs extractions, will pain medication be given?

Absolutely, we will give pain medication. In addition, we do nerve blocks for numbing just as human dentists do. They're usually given some type of a narcotic for pain relief as well as oftentimes some medications to go home. We even have a newer form of pain medication that's a transdermal, it goes on the skin and provides four days of pain relief so that we don't have to medicate the cat personally.

If you still have other questions and you'd like to reach out to us, you can call us directly at (480) 614-9500, or you can email us at [email protected]. But please do reach out, and we'll get back to you as fast as we can. Don't forget to follow us on social media Facebook, Instagram