When your dog gives you kisses do you almost pass out from the stench of her breath?

Pet dental disease is one of the most common disorders diagnosed on wellness exams. It is estimated that 80% of dogs and 70% of cats over the age of 3 years suffer from some degree of periodontal disease.

pet dental health

FORL – Tooth Enamel Defect in Cats

While a dental cleaning provides whiter teeth and fresh breath, the main benefit is to your pet’s overall health. Consider this: every time your pet chews, bacteria is showered into the bloodstream. This then lodges in the kidneys, liver, lungs and heart causing damage and disease. In addition, open fractures, feline odontoclastic resorptive lesions, tooth root abscesses, and worn teeth are painful and can act as a constant source of discomfort for your pet.

Kitties develop a unique lesion called feline odontoclastic resportive lesions or FORLs. These are similar to human cavities in that there is a defect in the enamel of the tooth and it is very painful. If your cat is over the age of 5 years old then there is a 72% chance a FORL is present.

These nasty FORLs are usually found along the outer surface of the tooth where it meets the gum line. They can present in many stages requiring dental radiographs to determine if the tooth root is involved. At the beginning stage an enamel defect is present which then progresses as the FORL penetrates the enamel and invades the pulp cavity. As the lesion develops it becomes increasingly more painful for your cat. Treatment entails a full dental exam under anesthesia and surgical extraction of the offending tooth.

pet dental health

X-ray of FORL and Tooth Abscess

Veterinarians are not sure why this happens but we do know it is extremely painful and unpleasant for your kitty. While clinical signs such as difficulty eating, drooling, bleeding at the site and dropping food from the mouth may be present; some cats to not show any obvious signs of pain. You should check your cat’s teeth monthly for any obvious FORLs which appear as pink or red defects in the tooth where it meets the gum. In addition, at your pet’s annual exam your veterinarian should perform as thorough an oral exam as your cat will tolerate (cats can be very opinionated about who they allow to look into their mouth) to check for any of these lesions.

Rather than wait for a problem to develop, it is best to perform a dental cleaning when only mild gingivitis and/or tartar are present. This will maintain good dental health and prevent disease before it becomes a problem. This ultimately results in saving you money and more importantly keeping your pet as healthy as possible.

pet dental health

Furla has regular dental check-ups

I realize a dental cleaning is not only expensive but it can be scary to put your pet under anesthesia. While anesthesia is daunting, if done correctly there is a very low risk of fatal complications. Ask your veterinarian what anesthetic protocol and monitoring tools he or she uses. At a minimum constant monitoring of heart rate, blood pressure, blood oxygen levels and respiratory rate should be performed. Certainly, general anesthesia should be respected, but please don’t let fear keep you from moving forward with a procedure that will benefit your pet’s health. I strongly believe that the low risk of anesthetic complications is far outweighed by the benefits of good dental health.

After continuously seeing the many complications that can arise from poor dental health I obsessively check my pet’s teeth. My two older dogs have had regular dental cleanings done and my kitty Furla had two FORLs extracted. Schedule a dental cleaning and start enjoying those doggie kisses again.

Ashley Gallagher, DVM

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluslinkedinmailFacebooktwittergoogle_pluslinkedinmail
Tagged on:                 

Related Posts

Therapy Animals – Bringing Smiles to People Everywhere While most therapy animals are dogs, trained cats are also being used with great therapeutic effects If you’re an animal lover, you have probably ...
How Dogs Improve Your Health Owning a dog can positively impact both your physical and mental health according to science.  Research shows that dog owners spend about 30 more minu...
Treatments for Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome in your Pets In my opinion our dogs and cats just don’t live long enough. To help them (and you) enjoy their golden years to the fullest there are a few signs you ...
Early detection and treatment of cat kidney disease The water in canned cat food helps to flush out the kidneys Chronic cat kidney disease is an all too common finding in middle-aged to senior kitti...
How pets improve mental health We often hear about the physical health benefits of having a pet but as important is how pets improve mental health. There is a lot of press lately on...
Pet Examinations – Health check-ups for cats and dogs Do you regularly visit your healthcare provider when you’re not sick or hurt? Like many people, the answer is probably “No”. So how about your pets? D...
Dogs and Ear Infections Baxter is a nine month old Westie who presented for scratching his ears and shaking his head. A quick peak at his ears revealed the skin was very red ...