It's time for National Dental Month in your Vail Valley Pets!

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It's time for National Dental Month in your Vail Valley Pets!

Feline Dental & Oral Health


          As the first month of 2022 comes to a close, we are quickly approaching National Pet Dental Health Month in February in the  Vail Valley and Eagle .This is the perfect time to have a dental exam performed on your canine or feline family members to evaluate their oral hygiene and take any recommended preventative or treatment measures. Our kitty friends are especially good at hiding dental and oral diseases, which is why it is an especially good idea to have an exam performed by your veterinarian at least once a year.


          Many cats will start developing dental plaque and tartar by the time they are 2-3 years old. This tartar can start to irritate the gums, causing gingivitis which can then lead to more serious periodontal disease when the bone underneath the gums becomes affected. Brushing your cat’s teeth once a day at home can help significantly delay or prevent the buildup of tartar and ultimately slow the progression of periodontal disease. Using Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC) approved products including water additives and toothpaste with special enzymes to help breakdown plaque is another at-home regimen that can keep your cat’s mouth healthy.


          If your cat has developed significant tartar or gingivitis, your veterinarian will recommend a dental procedure, which usually includes scaling, polishing and detailed examination of all teeth along with x-rays of every tooth. Performing a dental procedure annually can help identify underlying disease processes much earlier than by outward examination alone. The following are a few of the diseases that can be identified:


Feline Resorptive Lesions: in this disease process, the main structure of the tooth is eaten away which can lead to the exposure of the very sensitive pulp cavity. This is a very painful process and can lead to the death of the tooth itself. About two-thirds of all cats are affected by this disease and most times, the affected teeth will need to be extracted to eliminate the pain that the cat is experiencing. Oftentimes, these lesions cannot be seen until plaque is removed and x-rays are taken, which is why regular cleanings with radiographs are so important.


Stomatitis: whereas gingivitis refers to inflammation of the gingiva only, stomatitis is inflammation of all oral and mucosal surfaces of the mouth. Stomatitis is caused by an extreme immunologic reaction to bacteria and plaque in the mouth, and clinical signs often include bad breath, bleeding from the mouth, lack of appetite and decreased grooming due to the painful nature of this condition. This disease can be treated with antibiotics, regular cleanings, daily oral rinses, and anti-inflammatory medications–occasionally, some cats have such severe stomatitis that all of the teeth need to be extracted to eliminate all the surfaces for even the smallest amount of plaque to attach on.


Oral Masses: common signs of the development of an oral mass include sudden loss in appetite, swelling of the face or jaw, bad breath, and excessive drooling or bleeding from the mouth. By far, the most common type of oral mass is Squamous Cell Carcinoma, which is a very malignant cancer. Often by the time this cancer is diagnosed, it can be too large or have spread too far to remove surgically, which is yet another reason for regular dental check-ups and cleanings.


In the end, there are many different oral pathologies that our feline friends can develop, especially as they start to get older. Talk to your veterinarian about scheduling a dental exam to determine if your pet would benefit from a dental procedure–just in time for dental month!


         

We look forward to seeing you!