Teddy is a 7-year-old indoor kitty who was otherwise healthy and showed no signs of illness. He was eating, playing and acting completely normally. The owner did notice that one of his upper canine teeth had been sticking out slightly more than normal for a few months. Then she noticed a foul odor coming from his mouth, so she brought him in for a dental cleaning and evaluation. Once we had Teddy under anesthesia, we found that the canine tooth was loose and an x-ray showed an abscess.
We extracted this tooth and went about the rest of our examination. While Teddy had mild tartar on most of his teeth, they didn’t look bad visually prior to his dental. But we found two more teeth that had neck lesions, which are holes in the teeth at or just under the gum line that are common in cats. In most cases, including Teddy’s case, gentle probing of these teeth under anesthesia still causes a pain response (increase in heart rate, increase in respiration, and chattering of the teeth). That pain response is WITH anesthesia, so you can imagine the type of pain Teddy was likely feeling on a day-to-day basis at home. We removed these teeth and sent Teddy home with pain medication. He had to eat wet food with water for a day or two, but he recovered fully and the owner noted that he was playing more after the dental.
Teddy’s case illustrates several very important points.
- Our cats can have significant dental disease, including lots of pain, without showing any outward signs.
- Even on visual exam we could not appreciate the extent of Teddy’s dental disease.
- It is vital that our pets have routine dental cleanings under anesthesia so we can identify and address problems that are occurring without our knowledge.
- Finally, this case shows that even a trained veterinarian can miss signs of dental disease because Teddy is Doctor Browns kitty!
Remember, Don’t let your pet suffer like poor Teddy did! Dental health is a vital part of your pet’s quality of life. We will always check your pets mouth and if you are concerned in anyway call with your questions. We are happy to take the time to ensure your pet stays happy, healthy and pain free.
Shelley D. Brown, DVM, CVPP
Medical Director, Harmony Veterinary Center