Feline Dental Disease

As in dogs, periodontal disease is very common in cats. In addition, there are oral conditions that are more common in cats than in dogs.
 
Fig 1.  Periodontal disease surrounding teeth of a cat.

The most common is tooth resorption.

 

Fig 2. Tooth resorption affecting the maxillary canine tooth in a cat.

 


Fig 3. Tooth resorption affecting a mandibular premolar tooth in a cat.


Tooth Resorption

Feline tooth resorption typically originates in the cementum, may progress into root dentin, and then either progress through the root, into the crown, or both. Tooth resorption that can be identified on oral examination is an indication for radiographic evaluation and treatment. Intraoral radiography is required to properly evaluate this condition. Whole-mouth radiographs are recommended to evaluate other teeth in the mouth. Complete extraction is the treatment of choice for teeth that have detectable crown resorption but no radiographic evidence of root resorption. Teeth with crown resorption but radiographic signs of advanced root resorption (and no concurrent periodontal disease, periapical periodontitis or stomatitis) may be treated by subgingival amputation.  Either form of treatment should be followed by gingival closure. If there is radiographic evidence of root resorption, but no clinical resorption can be detected on oral examination, the tooth can be "monitored" or preemptively extracted.
Restoration of these teeth is not recommended. Semiannual dental examinations are recommended for all cats with previous diagnosis of tooth resorption.  Radiography should be repeated annually or more frequently as dictated by the oral examination.


Feline Stomatitis

Stomatitis is severe inflammation or ulceration of the oral epithelium, and is a debilitating disease for affected cats. Foul breath, difficulty in eating and drooling are typical clinical signs. Typically the lesions are symmetrical, and some patients have large areas of their oral cavity covered with painful, raw areas. This condition requires aggressive treatment.

Although occasional cats respond to medical treatment and meticulous oral hygiene (though this is not well tolerated by a cat with a painful mouth), for most cats, extraction of most or all of the teeth provides the best likelihood of relief. Cats that do not respond completely to extraction of all teeth can often be managed by medical treatment as needed.

 

Fig 4. Caudal stomatitis in a cat.

 

 
Fig 5. Alveolar mucositis in a cat, prior to extraction of teeth.

 

 
Fig 6. Following extraction of all teeth, the inflammation resolved.



Fractured Canine Teeth in Cats


Fig 1. Complicated canine tooth fracture in a cat.

The canine teeth (fangs) of cats often have fractures of the tip of the tooth. Since the pulp chamber extends very close to the tip of the tooth in cats, even small fractures can expose the sensitive pulp tissue. This inevitably leads to infection and death of the pulp tissue (endodontic disease). Any fractured canine tooth in a cat, regardless of the extent of the fracture, should be inspected closely and radiographed under sedation or anesthesia to determine whether the pulp tissue is exposed. Depending on the results of radiographic and clinical examination, the tooth can be treated with root canal therapy or extracted.