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What is Teeth and Gum Cleaning?

Teeth and gum cleaning in cats is a portion of feline hygiene that involves the removal of plaque as well as tartar buildup from the teeth. The teeth are cleaned using a hand piece scaler and curette, followed by an ultrasonic scaler. Teeth and gum cleaning in cats is performed by a veterinary technician, but the removal of teeth, overall evaluation, or alteration of the oral arcade is carried out by a veterinary dentist. 

Teeth and Gum Cleaning Procedure in Cats

The veterinary dentist will begin with an oral examination to evaluate the patient’s general oral health. The initial oral examination is performed when the patient is awake and allows the veterinarian to note significant oral health issues such as missing teeth or a high degree of plaque buildup. The feline will than have blood drawn for analysis to identify any potential problems that could affect the feline while under anesthesia. The feline will be given an injectable pre-anesthetic before taken to the dental cleaning area. The veterinarian dentist may choose to have radiographs taken of the cat’s teeth before or after the procedure. X-rays will aid in identifying problems underneath the gum line that cannot be seen by the naked eye. The veterinary technician will then be placed in charge of charting the teeth for dental problems and conducting the majority of the cleaning procedure. 

  1. The feline will have an esophageal tube placed in the prep area to allow a steady flow of oxygen and gas anesthetic to be administered during the procedure. 
  2. Once the tube is placed in the cat’s throat, the feline will be taken to the prepped dental cleaning area and hooked up to the anesthetic machine. It is at this time that a Pulse-oximeter will be placed on the feline to monitor the patient’s breathing rate, oxygen levels and heart rate for the duration of the procedure. 
  3. The technician will begin cleaning the teeth with a high speed ultrasonic scaler, which vibrates to remove plaque, tartar and staining from the teeth. 
  4. Use of the ultrasonic scaler is generally followed by hand scaling using a scaler above the gum line and a curette to be used below the gum line.  
  5. The mouth will be rinsed before proceeding to use a dental probe, which will allow the technician to detect any dental pockets. 
  6. The teeth are polished to smooth the surface of the teeth and prevent plaque buildup. Polishing is completed using a prophy angle, slow-speed hand piece and a fluoridated prophy paste. 
  7. The teeth are rinsed using diluted chlorhexidine, water and/or saline solution. 
  8. Fluoride may be applied. 
  9. The veterinary technician will allow the veterinary dentist to review the charted teeth and his/her notes from the dental cleaning. The veterinary dentist will then decide to remove teeth, request radiographs, or return the feline to the recovery room. 

Efficacy of Teeth and Gum Cleaning in Cats

Teeth and gum cleaning procedures for cats are the most effective way of preventing dental health problems in felines. Professional cleanings performed every six months to a year can prevent dental disease and treat present dental problems. 

Teeth and Gum Cleaning Recovery in Cats

The feline will be removed from gas anesthetic/oxygen, the esophageal tube will be removed, and a warm blanket will be wrapped around the patient before being taken to the recovery area. A veterinary technician will monitor the patient until the feline is awake. If a tooth was removed, pain medications and sometimes an antibiotic will be administered. Patients can return home shortly after waking up from the anesthetic. 

Cost of Teeth and Gum Cleaning in Cats

The average cost of a non-complicated teeth and gum cleaning for cats is about $100-$300. If your cat needs teeth removed, has health complications, or other complications, the cost can rise by another $200 or more. 

Cat Teeth and Gum Cleaning Considerations

The use of anesthetic is the number one concern of all feline pet owners during a teeth and gum cleaning. Anesthetic is used to keep your cat safe and comfortable during the procedure. The veterinary team also uses monitoring equipment to ensure a safe experience for the feline.

Teeth and Gum Cleaning Prevention in Cats

Teeth and gum cleanings in cats can be avoided by practicing routine at-home dental cleanings. Ask your veterinarian about proper feline teeth cleaning technique and tools.