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Tooth Decay

Hi
My cat has red gums and I was told she will have to have her teeth removed due to decay.  She has already had several teeth removed before, several years ago.  I am desperate because I do not want her to go through surgery again at her age.  I don't know what I would do if something happened to her.  However I also don't want the decaying teeth to create other problems down the road.  Is there any other alternative?  I read something about PetzLife which is an Oral Care Spray and Gel.  It has many claims that it really works and that owners of their pets did not have to have their teeth removed.  I would appreciate any info or help you can provide me with.
Thank You
4 Responses
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931614 tn?1283482670
MEDICAL PROFESSIONAL
I actually find it hard to stay still for xrays myself when I'm at the dentist.  Dental xrays require sedation, because even the sweetest of pets will not allow xray film and the tipping of the the head to hold in perfect position for 3 seconds at a time unless anesthesia is on board.

Remember anesthesia has come a long way and is much safer than the bacterial shower from the teeth/gingiva over the pet's life.  Doing pre-anesthetic blood testing will also help with the safety of your pet's procedure - either short term xrays only or longer procedure if dental cleaning along with extractions are done as well.
Helpful - 0
Avatar universal
Thank you so much for your responses.  I do have another question in order to check to see how much decay, you mention X rays.  Will my cat have to be sedated for that as well?
Helpful - 0
685623 tn?1283481607
MEDICAL PROFESSIONAL
I am glad that Dr. Mathis came and answered this question for you.  I too have seen several cats come through our clinics that need full mouth extractions, usually due to severe dental disease and FORLs.

I wanted to also mention that most veterinary dentists are not impressed with the PetzLife spray.  In fact, there is even a question about whether the before and after pictures on their website are even the same dog!!

Like Dr. Mathis has said, anesthesia and anesthetic protocols have come a long way in recent years.   Discuss your concerns with your veterinarian.  Many veterinarians will show you the monitoring equipment we now use as well as explain how we keep our little patients safe.   Taking care of this now will, in all likelihood, help your kitty friend to live a longer life.

Good luck!
Helpful - 0
931614 tn?1283482670
MEDICAL PROFESSIONAL
Simply your veterinarian is right.
I wish that removing the tartar by any method was 1) thorough and 2) successful to keep problems away.  Unfortunately the product you mention will do neither one of those.

IF it will remove tartar, which remains to be seen - it does not stop the infection that has happened at/under the gumline.  Antibiotics are usually not enough, either.  I do not believe PetzLife is a VOHC (Veterinary Oral Health Council) approved product.  ie it has not tried or does not meet the standards to be an effective product.  The Veterinary Dental Forum is taking place in two weeks, which I will be attending, so I can find out more about the efficacy of this product, but it is sketchy at this point.

Since it would work only to remove tartar and not infection, more has to be done to keep problems away.

If we just look the info you've provided about your cat with PetzLife aside, we know there is decay and red gums.  One concern you tell us is surgery.
If your veterinarian is doing: pre-anesthetic bloodwork, continual anesthesia monitoring, gas anesthesia, IV fluids, nerve blocks for extractions, dental xrays and gingival flaps - then your cat is getting the best care she deserves.

Anesthesia is quite safe now a days.  When the veterinarian can select the best anesthesia to use based on your pet's lab results, the outcome is even better.  IV fluids support blood pressure, help flush possible bacteria from the body, and help speed recovery from anesthesia as well as provide an emergency port during the procedure.

The decay (may be FORL (aka feline oral resorptive lesion)?) and gingivitis are painful. EVERY patient that has had extractions in my practice comes back complimentary two weeks later so we can ensure the gums have healed appropriately.  EVERY owner has been surprised at how much better/more spry they are now that the painful teeth are no longer present.  Most owners did not realize they were showing problems in the first place, but after the dentistry realize how much the pet was hiding.  80% of the pets that get this procedure are over age 10 - so age is not the problem.  Using appropriate nerve blocks and pain meds to go home with your cat is the solution.  It's much better to not have a tooth than have a painful tooth.

The jaw strength is immense and provided it's done well/right - your cat - even if all teeth had to be removed, would still be able to eat hard food without pain.  That's much better than where we are now.

The red gums is infection - over time this causes microscopic changes in the body affecting the heart, liver, lungs, and kidneys with kidneys being the organ(s) most affected in cats.  Antibiotics cannot work, but only short term - they will not fix the problem.  Antibiotics do nothing for the redness (red gums are painful) nor any cavities (painful) present.

Truly only xrays of the teeth can let us know what's happening in that mouth.  Teeth are like icebergs - half or more of the tooth is under the gumline like the ice is under the water.  We don't know what's happening under the water/gums unless we look.

At a minimum, I would suggest pre anesthetic bloodwork and dental xrays so you will know the extent of the problem and what can be done to help your cat safely.

Pets with good dental care live an average of two years longer quality life!
Helpful - 0

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