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Cat Lost a Tooth--Should I Worry?--Updated with more questions.

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  • Cat Lost a Tooth--Should I Worry?--Updated with more questions.

    The cat was yawning at me and appears to have lost one of the top long, pointy teeth (canine?). There's no bleeding, no apparent swelling and he's eating and drinking normally. Should I be worried about this? He's five years old and has had his teeth cleaned by the vet due to bad breath in the past, but is in good general health.

    Vets here generally don't speak a lot of English, so if the consensus is wait and see, I'll just keep an eye on it, but I've never had one lose one of those big teeth before! Is it possible that part of the tooth is still in the gum somewhere?
    Last edited by Too Old for Pony Club; Jan. 22, 2013, 03:10 AM.
    Founder of the "I met a COTHer in a foreign country" clique!

  • #2
    Wait and see. I've had that happen a couple of times, and kitties were none the worse for the loss each time. One time Kitty presented me with an upper canine sticking out in a grossly comical way. Went to vet, who silently examined, reached for forceps, and plucked that snaggletooth out in an instant. I coulda done that myself and saved $65!!


    • #3
      Just wait and watch for signs of infection; Swelling, bright red gums, etc. As long as he's eating and drinking he should be just fine.
      All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.
      -Edward Burke


      • #4
        I'd worry that there was some kind of underlying infection that caused the tooth to loosen. At the very least, he may be due for another cleaning. Mouth issues can lead to a variety of much more serious issues ranging from diabetes to heart disease, so it's important to have the teeth checked.


        • Original Poster


          Though he continued to eat, drink and look fine, I took the cat to the vet. I'm glad I did; the teeth at the back were covered in super-gross plaque, and the canine had broken off and had to have the root removed.

          The whole process was not exactly what I expected. The dental work took five hours (!), and they used general anesthesia. I picked the cat up and took him home, but when I took him out of the cage, he couldn't walk. At all. It took several more hours for him to recover even basic motor skills. It's now the next day, and he's moving around OK (still slow, and not really jumping up on things comfortably) and his eyes still look funny. Is it normal for dental work to be done under general anesthesia? How long before he's back to normal? I felt really bad for him yesterday; is it possible for me to request sedation only the next time he needs his teeth done?
          Founder of the "I met a COTHer in a foreign country" clique!


          • #6
            Yes, dental work SHOULD be done under general anesthesia. It's safer in the long run and more comfortable to the pet. However, I would be concerned about ANY vet that takes five hours to pull one tooth and clean the rest. I'm a tech and I think the LONGEST dental took about 3 hours, which included removal of all or most of the teeth and pre and post op dental rads. I would also look at what was included while under anesthesia. All of our pets get day-of full bloodwork, IV catheter, IV fluids, ECG monitoring, BP monitoring, intubation with a high quality gas anesthesia (in our case Sevoflurane). And almost ALL of our pets go bounding out the door with no problems on the same day, even those with extractions.

            Did your cat get IV fluids or at least SQ fluids? What about pain meds? The canine tooth is a BIG tooth with a BIG root and I would want pain meds! Antibiotics may also be in order if the tooth was abscessed or the vet had to drill into the bone to remove it.


            • Original Poster

              I have no idea why it took so long. I do have an itemized bill (in Korean ); the vet said that he got an x-ray, blood work and fluids (don't know if they were IV or sub-q). I'm giving him one pill twice a day for 10 days--I think it's an antibiotic? Again, the prescription is in Korean.

              Hopefully, this will be the last round of vet care I need to deal with here with the exception of his export papers, which are pretty straightforward. Unfortunately, this vet came recommended by the local ex-pat community as the best in the area . I was pretty surprised by the condition he was sent home in, but cats are not common here at all and I'm not sure how experienced the vet was with cats.
              Founder of the "I met a COTHer in a foreign country" clique!


              • #8
                Originally posted by lovey1121 View Post
                Wait and see. I've had that happen a couple of times, and kitties were none the worse for the loss each time. One time Kitty presented me with an upper canine sticking out in a grossly comical way. Went to vet, who silently examined, reached for forceps, and plucked that snaggletooth out in an instant. I coulda done that myself and saved $65!!
                I had the exact same experience with one of my cats. I was just seeing a little bit of extra fang on the one side. Took kitty in and vet grabbed forceps and yanked it out. A few years later he had to have the other one pulled. The cat lived to be 18 years old so I don't think it hurt him any.
                Oh, well, clearly you're not thoroughly indoctrinated to COTH yet, because finger pointing and drawing conclusions are the cornerstones of this great online community. (Tidy Rabbit)


                • Original Poster

                  I have a couple more questions about the cat who had the tooth removed.

                  At the last visit, the vet suggested having his teeth cleaned every six months. I was also given some toothpaste to use (full disclosure--it's really hard to get on his teeth and I should probably have been more diligent about it). The last vet visit cost about $300 for x-rays, anesthetic, extraction, cleaning and post-op meds. The cat was also sent home unable to walk.

                  I'll be heading home to Canada soon, and I could have the work done there. I'm also headed back to school, so I'm not crazy about spending $$ unnecessarily.

                  I'm not sure I really want to get the cleaning done again, but I thought I'd see what others do in terms of routine dental car.
                  1) How often do you have your cat's teeth cleaned by the vet?
                  2) What is the average cost for a cleaning including sedation? (I will be headed home to Ontario if anyone local wants to chime in on their costs).
                  3) Do you do anything to help keep teeth clean(er) between professional cleanings? (i.e. how much should I worry about this toothpaste gel?)
                  4) How much should I worry about having the cat put under general anesthesia twice a year?
                  Founder of the "I met a COTHer in a foreign country" clique!


                  • #10
                    1) How often do you have your cat's teeth cleaned by the vet?
                    As often as they need it. Some pets can go years between cleanings, come need their teeth cleaned every 4-6 times per year. A good plan would be to schedule an exam every 6 mos and have them checked.

                    2) What is the average cost for a cleaning including sedation? (I will be headed home to Ontario if anyone local wants to chime in on their costs).
                    This can vary based on a number of factors: location, type of anesthesia used, weight of animal, whether or not pre anes blood work is done, what kind of monitoring is being done, if pre or post prophy antibiotics are needed, if extractions are done, and whether or not fluids are being given.

                    For a "normal" cleaning with the preventive measures in place, I would expect to pay around $200 for an otherwise healthy cat, no extractions. You'll just have to call around. BUt i'd warn you against going with the lowest bidder. Ask about anesthesia, fluids, bloodwork, monitoring, etc. Typically if it's cheap, they're cutting corners.

                    3) Do you do anything to help keep teeth clean(er) between professional cleanings? (i.e. how much should I worry about this toothpaste gel?)
                    I personally do not because I know I will not stay on it daily and that's really the key. If you're going to brush your pet's teeth, you need to start immediately after the dental cleaning (before the plaque is hardening again) and stay on it daily. I know I won't do it so I don't.

                    4) How much should I worry about having the cat put under general anesthesia twice a year?
                    Depends on how healthy the kitty is otherwise. If preanesthetic blood work is being done and organ function looks good, a safe gas anesthetic is being used, fluids are being given and the kitty is being monitored while under anesthesia, then IMHO (and I'm not a vet) your kitty is MORE at risk having very dirty teeth with all of that bacteria trapped near the gum line with easy access to the blood stream than he is at risk going under anesthesia.

                    Once you get back home and can communicate more effectively with the veterinarian of choice, I'd ask all of these questions again.

                    Good luck!
                    A good horseman doesn't have to tell anyone...the horse already knows.

                    Might be a reason, never an excuse...


                    • #11
                      I go to a really high quality vet. The cost for a dental is $295, which I think is cheap for the quality. I do have preanesthetic blood work done. Pets get safe anesthesia meds, x-rays, pain medicines, are continuously monitored (lots of sensors) during the whole procedure, are kept on human warm air circulating pads that help regulate body temperature (but can't burn like a heating pad or hot water pack).

                      I get called by the vet during surgery to discuss findings and costs of extractions, etc. I get a 30 page report with pictures (of cavities etc) after the dental and pain meds to provide orally for the next few days. My vet also provides the pulled teeth (wow, they look yucky with neck lesions) so you can see them and keep them for the cat tooth very if wanted . Of course, extractions, etc can really increase the price.

                      My vet recommends approximately 1x yearly teeth cleaning for most cats, but will recommend more or less based on problems noted at check ups. For my cat with cardiomyopathy dentals became unsafe, so he has had his teeth hand scraped for the last 4 years. He is a very cooperative cat though and it was not ideal as we could not check for underlying problems that were not visible to the naked eye.

                      The thing about cats is that they can get neck lesions (the equivalent of REALLY painful cavities) that are typically below the gum line and cannot be seen by the naked eye (hence the x-rays). By the time you can see them, blood at gum or falling out tooth it can be really really painful.

                      I have had very, very old and decrepit cats have dentals after never having one in their lives (cats I rescued). One was on the verge of death with no appetite and looking starving. After the dental (and on pain meds) she gobbled up so much canned cat food even though she had lost a lot of teeth. Her quality of life only went up from there, she became fat and happy and lived 3 very good years as an elderly cat.

                      I do think dentals can really improve the quality of life for pets. Keeping their teeth clean by brushing is also something my vet strongly recommends to decrease the frequency of intense cleanings. Most pets adapt to it just fine if introduced slowly with some nice beef or chicken flavored tooth paste. The goal at first is to accept the brush and lick off the toothpaste, nothing more. My family has several pets between us that look forward to teeth brushing time and come running. It's more the commitment on the owner's part that can be hard and the consistency of it....it's adding another being that needs their teeth brushed daily to the tasks of daily life.

                      All that said, I am lucky and have a wonderful vet who works at a multi-vet practice but specializes only in dentistry at this point in his career. The equipment is human grade, the anesthesia is top rated for safety even if it costs a bit more than cheaper alternatives, and they have staff monitoring the pet and monitors at all times. With a healthy pet, frequent dental work doesn't scare me at all with this quality of dentistry. With a not as healthy pet (such as my cat above), we adapt as we need to.

                      I think it is great that you took your cat in for dental work. I too have not heard of the anesthesia lasting so long, but I do know that cats (maybe even more so than dogs) are adept at not showing pain and when it gets to the point that they are obviously in pain, they are in a lot of pain. I think you did your cat a great favor by taking him in quickly.

                      Lots of people don't get dentals for their pets and they do okay for most of their lives, but preventative care really does make a difference and even one dental can go along way to help for older pets.

                      One last point is to try to be really careful about picking a vet to do dentistry. Sometimes a cheap price will not give you the best deal. My vet gets to "fix" all of the problems created by less qualified and caring vets when their owners notice that not all is right. I had a friend go to a cheaper (and not all that much cheaper place) where many of her cats teeth were removed. This was an older cat and she asked good questions but not in great detail. Cat did not recover well from dental and did not regain appetite. Back into my vet. Other so called good vet had "broken" off many of the teeth leaving exposed roots under the gum. Teeth must be carefully extracted to fix problems with gum flaps, etc. to make sure mouth health is preserved. Teeth are part of the jaw and pulling them out without skill, care, and knowledge can compromise the integrity of the jaw if not careful. Many vets are very qualified to do this, but obviously, just "any" vet won't do.

                      Good luck! It sounds like you are on good track to having a healthy mouth for your cat and with work, I bet you could reduce need for cleanings with careful brushing .


                      • #12
                        ciscolark, excellent post!
                        A good horseman doesn't have to tell anyone...the horse already knows.

                        Might be a reason, never an excuse...