Hound’s Tooth and Cat’s Teeth: A Photo Blog in Honor of National Pet Dental Health Month

February 4, 2015

Feline Stomatitis: A Pain in the Mouth

October 29, 2014
Stomatitis

Redness and swelling indicative of stomatitis

You can bet with a high degree of certainty that any medical condition ending in -itis is painful. Think appendicitis, neuritis and bronchitis. The suffix –itis means inflammation. Stomatitis means inflammation of the mouth, and in cats, the redness and swelling seen in the photo on the right characterizes feline stomatitis.

Don’t confuse stomatitis with gingivitis
This cat has gingivitis. The thin red line at the tooth-gum junction seen in the second photograph is gingivitis, which is much less painful and much easier to treat than stomatitis. Gingivitis is a mild, localized form of oral inflammation and stomatitis is more widespread.

Gingivitis

Gingivitis in a cat

Causes of stomatitis
A recent research publication reported on over 5,000 cats. Cats with oral disease were more likely to test positive for either feline leukemia virus or feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV). Stomatitis was most strongly associated with FIV infection. An exuberant immune reaction to plaque buildup on the teeth has been suggested as a cause of stomatitis. Feline calici virus infection may be the trigger for the exuberant immune reaction against the plaque.

Recognizing stomatitis in your cat
You might not even know your cat has gingivitis unless you lift their lip and look in their mouth. Recognizing stomatitis in your cat is easier. Cats with stomatitis paw at their face, refuse their favorite cat food, drool and yawn. Sometimes you will notice blood in the drool or your cat screaming when she yawns. Any of these clinical signs should provoke a visit to your cat’s veterinarian.

Treatment of stomatitis
A professional dental cleaning will remove plaque, but in severe cases of stomatitis, teeth cleaning may not be enough to correct the problem on a long-term basis. Antibiotic treatment may also provide a short-term benefit through temporary reduction of bacteria levels in the mouth. If these measures do not resolve stomatitis and your cat is still painful, tooth extraction will likely be the next recommended treatment. How many teeth are extracted depends on the severity and location of the oral inflammation. A routine tooth cleaning and extractions of diseased teeth may cure or control the mild cases, but extraction of all molars and premolars is a common prescription. In some cases, removal of all the teeth, including the fangs and the tiny front teeth called incisors is necessary to control stomatitis. After a post-operative recovery period, cats can eat canned food and have an improved quality of life once the stomatitis has resolved. While this sounds drastic, research has shown 80% of cats have resolution of oral pain with tooth extraction.

Cat owner’s role in preventing stomatitis

  • Train your kitten to accept tooth brushing during kittenhood, and brush daily.  This will help to keep levels of plaque low.
  • Treat your cat with products designed to removed plaque and tartar as recommended by your veterinarian.
  • Take your cat to the veterinarian for annual examination and recommendations about dental cleaning.
  • Keep your cat indoors to protect them against infection with the feline leukemia virus or feline immunodeficiency virus.

Brush Up on Your Bicuspids: A Dog and Cat Tooth Tour

February 11, 2013

February is National Pet Dental Health Month. According to the American Veterinary Dental College, your pet needs daily toothbrushing and annual dental cleanings to keep their pearly whites white. Just like your visit to the dentist, where x-rays are taken to find periodontal disease or tooth abscesses, x-rays are a critical component of an annual dental cleaning for your dog or cat. Since most pet owners don’t get a chance to see their pet’s dental x-rays, I thought I would show you some from The Animal Medical Center.

dental1

Above, you see Spanky the cat’s six normal front teeth (incisors) flanked by his big fangs, also called canine teeth, even though he is a cat. Based on x-rays, the rest of Spanky’s teeth were normal and he did not have to have any teeth extracted during his annual dental cleaning.

 dental2

In this x-ray you see one of Rhett Butler’s big molars. Both roots are surrounded by a dark area, instead of normal white bone. The dark area represents a periapical tooth root abscess which was the cause of his reluctance to eat and his swollen face. Once the tooth was extracted and he was treated with antibiotics, he recovered quickly.

dental3dental4

Here you see dental x-rays of the right jaw of two different cats – Spanky on the left and Willie on the right. At first glance, the two look the same. If you look closely you will notice the third tooth in Willie’s x-ray appears moth eaten, especially on the left side of the tooth. The appearance is characteristic of a feline odontoclastic resorptive lesion (FORLS) or root resorption. Teeth with root resorptions need to be extracted as they can be painful and are prone to fracturing. The American Veterinary Dental College recommends cats affected by FORLS should be evaluated twice annually to detect and treat these lesions early.

dental5

Despite daily tooth brushing by her owner, Pippa has developed periodontal disease. You can see a pocket of bone loss around the two adjoining teeth. Both teeth had to be extracted during her annual dental cleaning.

Since I shared pictures of pets’ pearly whites, you might want to share yours!

On Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/groups/pearlywhitepets

On Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/events/121936134646100/

On Twitter: Use the hashtag #pearlywhitepets


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