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Cat Dental Health – Resorptive Lesions

My vet shared this article with me and I thought I would pass it along.  The lesions cause pain, so it is definitely a good idea to get your cats dental health taken care of annually:

 

Cats are prone to a serious and very painful dental disease called “tooth resorption.” Various studies have found 28-67% of cats have tooth resorption. Tooth resorption is the most common cause of tooth loss in cats.

Tooth resorption results in the loss of tooth structure, starting with the outer enamel surface, usually at or below the gum line. The lesions, which are NOT cavities, begin as a loss of tooth enamel and can eventually spread to the dentin and then the pulp canal, which contains the blood vessels and nerves to the tooth. Sometimes, the entire crown of the tooth may be missing.

Tooth resorption is progressive and may be singular or multiple and on either side of the tooth. Some lesions are readily apparent and others may be hidden under areas of plaque or swollen gums. This is why a cat needs to be anesthetized to determine if such lesions are present: the entire surface of each tooth must be examined.

The cause of resorptive lesions is unknown. One theory is that the inflammation caused by plaque may stimulate cells called “odontoclasts,” which eat away at the enamel of the tooth. Other possible causes include autoimmune disorders, changes in pH in the mouth, viral diseases, or a problem with calcium metabolism.

Resorptive lesions that have eroded through the enamel may be very painful. Cats with oral pain may appear irritable or aggressive, have a change in appetite or food preference, and may have difficulty chewing and eating (food falls from their mouth). Cats with resorptive lesions may show pain when their jaws are touched and may also have increased salivation or oral bleeding.

 

STAGE I: Loss of enamel only, extending
less than 0.5 mm into the tooth.
STAGE II: Lesion extends into the dentin.
STAGE III: Lesion extends into the pulp
canal, but good tooth structure remains.
STAGE IV: Lesion extends into the pulp canal
and there is extensive loss of tooth
structure.
STAGE V: Crown of tooth is missing, but
roots are present.
Resorptive Lesions

Dental radiographs are essential in diagnosing this condition and evaluating the extent of disease. Resorption lesions are graded according to the amount of tooth that is lost (see right).

Depending upon the stage of resorption, the entire tooth with the roots may be extracted, or only a portion of the tooth is removed. Cats who have a history of tooth resorption should have a prophylaxis (professional dental cleaning) every six months. Good home dental care is important for cats with tooth resorption.

Source: Dr. Foster’s Smith.com

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Dry Cat Food – Does It Clean Teeth?

I had someone write to me after I made my post about what kind of food to feed your cat.  The writer asked me why I don’t feed dry food to my cat because she was told that all dry cat food is good because it cleans their teeth.  This is a common myth.  All dry cat food does is shatter against their teeth, it does not combat or remove tarter.  Some cats will just swallow the food whole, so that doesn’t even help clean their teeth at all (and I would imagine swallowing food whole could lead to indigestion, stomach ache and couldn’t that lead to vomiting?)

Keeping a cat’s mouth and teeth clean takes patience and persistence on your part.  Brushing your cat’s teeth and getting regular dental cleaning from your vet are important.  Periodontal disease in cats can be devastating.  It can be lethal.

If you want to brush your cat’s teeth, you can buy a tooth brush and toothpaste here.  DO NOT use a human tooth brush or tooth paste.

Getting your cat used to letting you brush their teeth can be a daunting task.  Take your time, try it and do it in short bursts, and make sure to give your cat treats after allowing you to do that. There is a great video here, explaining how to brush your cat’s teeth.  It is not me in the video.

There is an amazing article here to explain more about the effects of dry food on cats vs. raw food diets.  Great comments at the end of the article.  It is written by a veterinarian and gives a lot of food for thought.

The same information can also be helpful with dogs and their dental health.

Take care of your pet’s mouth and they will live a longer, happier and healthier life, think of the great feeling you will have, knowing that you helped to provide a great life for your furbaby.