You bring your kitty in for their yearly physical or six month follow up appointment and your veterinarian states the words “Oh, your kitty could use a dental cleaning”. If you had your cat’s teeth cleaned recently, within a year or six months, you might wonder how important doing another teeth cleaning is or if there is anything you can do to help your kitty’s teeth from needing frequent dental cleanings. I want to share with you my niece kitty’s experience to help answer those questions.
Misty is a beautiful grey, domestic long hair, 8 year old kitty. She was diagnosed about three years ago with Idiopathic Hypercalcemia; this means that her Calcium levels are too high and there is no known reason why her levels are elevated. Hypercalcemia can be a deadly disease if left untreated and can also cause other health ailments. Her hypercalcemia caused Misty to have painful stones develop in her bladder. Because of this, Misty had a bladder cystotomy in 2013 to remove the stones. Misty is on special medication called Alendronate to help prevent Misty from getting bladder stones and keep her calcium at a normal level.
Misty has to be monitored yearly to check her urine pH, ionized calcium levels and abdominal x-rays to make sure the bladder stones haven’t reoccurred (which can happen sometimes).
A year after her bladder surgery, Misty came in for her annual check up and upon her physical exam, Dr. Sloan noticed that Misty had tartar on her teeth and recommended a dental cleaning. My brother had her pre-anesthetic blood work done and scheduled to have her first teeth cleaning in 2015, during our dental month, which is celebrated in February.
During the dental cleaning, it was noted that she had some tartar and mild gingivitis, but she also had one tooth of concern. Dr. Sloan took an x-ray of the tooth and the roots were healthy so no extractions were necessary.
My brother brought Misty in for her yearly exam this year and Dr. Sloan noticed that she built up tartar on her teeth again and needed another dental cleaning. My brother had Misty’s pre-anesthetic blood work done and scheduled the dental in February of this year, during our dental month. My brother decided to perform the majority of Misty’s routine testing for her hypercalcemia while she was under anesthesia.
Misty came in to Cat Care on February 8th, where I checked her in and confirmed that she was fasted overnight. My brother signed the paper work that admits Misty into the hospital and authorizes us the perform the anesthesia, dental cleaning and other necessary tests. Once again, Misty was admitted into Cat Care for more medical care. She was given a dose of Buprenorphine, which is an opioid given for pain prior to anesthesia, and I took her abdominal x-ray to check for bladder stones. Misty was then placed into her suite until it was time for anesthesia.
Misty was then wrapped in a towel, her eyes were lubricated with a sterile lubricant to keep them protected and a mask was placed around her muzzle which delivered the anesthesia and oxygen; she was soon fast asleep. Next Misty had an IV catheter placed and IV fluids started to support her organ systems while she was under anesthesia. An ear swab sample was taken since she has had ear infections in the past and her ears still bother her occasionally. Her blood was drawn for the Ionized Calcium test to make sure her calcium levels were being controlled on her current dose of medication. Misty also and a urine sample taken and an analysis was performed (to check for bladder infection and make sure her pH levels were normal); next came her dental cleaning. Her teeth cleaned up nicely; she had no dental x-rays or extractions. Her gum health had improved from the year before and the tooth of concern from her 2015 dental cleaning was in great shape. Misty’s abdominal x-ray showed that there where no bladder stones. However, her urine pH was elevated at 8 (a normal cat urine pH is 6-6.5), so Misty has to come back in 6 months to recheck her urine pH. Misty ears still had a slight infection and she was placed back on ear drops.
Misty’s teeth were improved from the first dental cleaning. Since my brother continues to keep up with her dental cleanings it helps prevent Misty from needing teeth extractions, keeps her gums healthy and reduces the amount of bacteria in her mouth and bloodstream.
As far as preventing tartar from building up on the teeth, you can brush your cats teeth at home, but it’s best to brush at least three times a week. Dental treats can also be given to help minimize tartar build-up. There are supplements that can help decrease the amount of gingivitis that is present for some cats. Genetics plays a part in your cats overall oral health and some kitties may be more prone to having dental disease than others. It’s important to remember, that once tartar and gingivitis starts, home care will not get rid of it, the only solution is a professional cleaning by your veterinarian under anesthesia.
Call Cat Care PC of Rochester Hills and ask to speak to one of our Licensed Technicians if you have any questions about your own cat’s oral health.
You can also read about Penny’s dental cleaning day here.