Dear Dr. John,
My cat had been feeling pretty badly for a few days and had been vomiting so I took her in to my vet. He did some blood work and gave her Pepcid and she is fine.
I am writing about the comment he made about her teeth and gums. He showed me the tartar and how the gums were receding, then commented that she should have her teeth cleaned again like we did two years ago.
However, he also mentioned taking dental X-rays before we do the cleaning and extract any teeth. This is a new vet for our pets and I never heard of doing this for my pets, let alone paying the extra cost.
Does this sound reasonable to you and why does my cat need to have her teeth cleaned again so soon? Strangely enough, my neighbor has his dog’s teeth cleaned almost every year but my cousin has a dog that has never needed it done. Why? — E.P.
One usually hears about dog breath, but cat breath can also be an issue. Simply put, bad breath can be a sign of bad oral health affecting the teeth or the gums, but an animal can also have dental/gum disease without necessarily having bad breath.
Frequent brushing helps reduce the incidence of decay and problems, but it is not a panacea. Veterinary medicine continues to become far more sophisticated and the ability to do dental X-rays is rapidly becoming the right thing to do because it allows a veterinarian to assess the roots of the teeth as well as the tooth itself looking for decay, resorption and other abnormalities.
Many veterinarians still assess a tooth visually and with probes to determine a need for extraction, but X-rays may spare a tooth or point out one that needs to be removed.
As far as the frequency for dental cleanings, every animal is different and dental health is in large part genetically based. Some pets are prone to rapid dental decay and production of staining and tartar, while others never seem to get it. Smaller dogs are more prone than larger breeds as a rule of thumb.
Cats can be prone to resorptive lesions exposing the nerve and subsequent discomfort, which progresses to a rotting tooth that needs to be removed or falls out. It sounds as if the vomiting is under control so I would trust your veterinarian and pursue the dental care.
February is National Pet Dental Health Month. Our hospital is offering a special promotion and your cat’s doctor might too!
John de Jong, D.V.M., is the owner/operator of the Boston Mobile Veterinary Clinic and CEO/director at Boston Animal Hospital.Article URL: http://www.bostonherald.com/entertainment/lifestyle/view.bg?articleid=1399237