cat teeth exam

Why Does My Cat Need Oral Healthcare Examinations?

To keep your cat as healthy as possible, your veterinarian needs to examine his teeth. Exams help prevent and detect dental disease, and ensure his overall dental health. Cats instinctively hide any signs of pain. So, you probably wouldn’t know if his teeth are painful. If your veterinarian is trained to notice signs of pain or dental disease and they will conduct oral and radiographic examinations. Dental disease can lead to changes in your cat’s internal organs, including the heart, liver, and kidneys.

What Happens If My Cat Needs a Dentistry Procedure?

For a complete oral and radiographic evaluation (x-ray), general anesthesia is required. During the procedure, your veterinarian will:

Dental infographic
  • Clean and polish his teeth.
  • Examine each of his 30 teeth as well as examine his gums, the roof of his mouth, inside of his cheeks, and the back of his throat. (All findings are recorded in a dental chart.)
  • Look for gum recession, bone loss, areas of periodontal disease, tooth resorption, and oral masses.
  • Take x-rays (radiographs) of each of his teeth.
    • Dental x-rays allow your veterinarian to see the roots and surrounding bone of your cat’s teeth.
    • Over half of your cat’s tooth structure is beneath the gum line and can only be evaluated with x-rays.
  • Determine appropriate treatment for each tooth by combining the findings of the visual examination with the dental x-rays.
  • If oral surgery is required, your veterinarian may remove any painful, diseased teeth so your cat can be comfortable and not in pain.

What are the Risks of Anesthesia?

If your cat has any dental or oral surgery procedure, general anesthesia is required. Take time to ask your veterinarian about their anesthetic protocols or plans. This way, you understand the steps they take to minimize the risk, relieve your fears, and provide your cat with a safe anesthetic procedure.

Questions to Consider Asking Your Veterinarian

  • Is my cat’s blood work completed before he receives anesthesia? Do you recommend any other testing for my cat?
  • Tell me about your pain management plans for my cat. Do you use nerve blocks for oral surgery?
  • Will my cat have an intravenous catheter and fluids during his procedure?
  • How will my cat be monitored when he is under general anesthesia?
  • When will my cat be discharged from the hospital after his procedure?
  • Will he have medication when he goes home?

More frequent dental examinations may be required if your cat has severe dental disease. Your veterinarian can help guide you in this process. Make sure you and your veterinarian discuss any findings from the examination, treatment options, and a home-care routine.