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Are You Concerned About Your Cat’s Teeth?

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A while back I had taken my dog, Sweet Potato, to get a dental cleaning at Pearly White Pets. I wrote an article about it here, Are You Concerned About Your Pet’s Teeth?. I learned they also do dental cleanings for cats. Bernadette explained what that procedure looks like and the unique challenges they face treating cats.

Difference between cats and dogs

She explained the only real difference between dental cleaning for a cat and a dog is that cats are a little more vivacious. “We have about a 50% success rate with cats. Not for the reasons people think.” She elaborated that an obvious part of the problem is they are very wary of people trying to touch or open their mouths. The other part of the problem with cleaning cats’ teeth is they often discover feline oral resorptive lesions (FORLs). Lesions that often occur at the neck of the tooth.

“You have the head of the tooth and the base of the tooth. Where it meets the gum line is called the neck. A lot of these lesions occur there. Slang or medical jargon for it is neck lesions. It’s a very common thing. There are a lot of articles out there about neck lesions if you want to research more about this.”


do not know what causes FORLs. Bernadette explains it may be a type of autoimmune disease. Some cats are prone to calcium buildup from their teeth which makes the teeth weaker and can create dental cavities.

“The cavities create caverns in the tooth that expose the root, which is very painful for them and creates a superhighway for bacteria to get in there. As soon as I see those, they absolutely 100% have to be removed under anesthesia. At that point, I finish the oral exam and do not move on to the cleaning”

After they stop the procedure they talk to the owner and explain what FORL is and give them a handout to educate them on the issue.  Bernadette mentioned that finding cats with FORL is very common but they don’t know why. You can see it in a cat whose owner brushes their teeth since they’ were a kitten while on a raw diet, and you can have someone with their cat on junk food. It doesn’t matter, it’s individual. It might be genetic. More research needs to be done to uncover the cause.

Bernadette explained in the veterinary world,

they do not know what causes the neck lesions or why the cats are building up calcium on their teeth. But calcium build-up can easily be prevented with cleanings. Bernadette recommends cats getting a full cleaning at least once a year.

During the teeth cleanings at Pearly White Pets,

they use calming pheromones specific for cats. Bernadette further explained the process to me, “We saturate the room with the calming scent for cats. Do a double swaddle. The rest of the procedure is the same with dogs being in the lap, photos, and oral exam. Ending with a chart for the client. There is very little difference between cats and dogs. Less real estate in the cat’s mouth to clean. A lot shorter time frame.” Be sure to read the article written regarding dog dental cleaning, Are You Concerned About Your Pet’s Teeth?

General at-home dental care


🦷 𝐆𝐫𝐞𝐞𝐧𝐢𝐞 𝐅𝐞𝐥𝐢𝐧𝐞 𝐒𝐦𝐚𝐫𝐭𝐛𝐢𝐭𝐞𝐬
🦷 𝐀𝐧𝐞𝐬𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐬𝐢𝐚 𝐟𝐫𝐞𝐞⁠ 𝐝𝐞𝐧𝐭𝐚𝐥 𝐜𝐥𝐞𝐚𝐧𝐢𝐧𝐠
🦷 𝐃𝐚𝐧𝐠𝐥𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐚 𝐬𝐭𝐫𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐨𝐫 𝐝𝐞𝐧𝐭𝐚𝐥 𝐟𝐥𝐨𝐬𝐬 at the end of⁠ a fish wand ⁠-The cat grabs it and puts it in their mouth as you pull away. It is kind of like flossing their teeth. This could be one of those DIY creations.
🦷 𝐅𝐨𝐨𝐝 𝐚𝐝𝐝𝐢𝐭𝐢𝐯𝐞𝐬 might help but reviews show that results are not clear.

Bernadette talked about how cats seem to get less veterinary care. She told me most often the joke in the veterinary industry is cats are second class citizens:

 “We will often find out people have cats in passing, while they are in the vet with their dog. They bring their dog in for an annual check up, and they will say something like oh like my cat!  We are like, we do not have a cat on record for you. And they will say, oh we do not take him to the vet. The problem with research is that you go where the funding is, at the moment. A lot of people are investing a lot of money into their dogs, just not as much into their cats. But you will see funding for things that are really common out there in cats like kidney disease and diabetes.”

In terms of oral health for cats, convincing clients is hard. It has only been 10 years since people began to understand oral health is important. Dogs really do get a lot of care and time at the vet, but it’s important we start doing the same for our cats too. Take your cat for their teeth cleaning, for their shots, and you will get to enjoy them as part of your family for many, many years.





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