Otis was booked in for a dental at the beginning of September. Dental procedures can be uncomfortable – as you will know if you’ve ever had your own teeth scaled! – and the instruments we use are cooled with jets of water. To keep our patients comfortable and immobile and to protect their airway, dental procedures are always carried out under a general anaesthetic.
First we scaled Otis’s teeth to remove the tartar. Next, we assessed them with a dental probe. This allows us to find any pockets below the gumline, and to assess whether any broken teeth need to be extracted.
Doris, one of our vets, suspected that some of Otis’s teeth were showing signs of resorption. Feline Odontoclastic Resorptive Lesions occur in up to two thirds of domestic cats. Type I lesions involve local inflammation of the gum, and erosion of the tooth surface. This can be treated by extracting the tooth. Type II lesions occur when the periodontal ligament holding the tooth in place is lost, and the tooth begins to be absorbed by the bone of the jaw. These teeth cannot be extracted, so we have to burr away the affected crown (visible part of the tooth) and leave the root to resorb. The only way to differentiate between type I and II lesions is to take x-rays.
Doris took a series of x-rays of Otis’s mouth with our digital dental x-ray machine. Five of his teeth showed signs of Type I FORLs so these were extracted. Several other teeth were extracted because they were loose or broken. Cats and dogs manage very well even with only a few remaining teeth, with many able to go back to eating dry food once their extraction sites have healed.
Sometimes when larger teeth are extracted we suture the gum with dissolvable suture material to encourage healing. This wasn’t needed in Otis’s case. At the end of the procedure we polish the teeth to remove any tiny scratches causing by scaling, then flush the mouth.
Otis went home with a course of pain relief and antibiotics and is recovering well from his procedure. Otis is insured so the cost of his procedure can be claimed back. Unfortunately, not all insurance policies cover dentistry; this is something we recommend checking if you are considering taking out insurance.