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Old 12-06-2006, 11:53 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Tooth problems

Sorry this is a long post, but I've been told different things by vets and don't know what to do.

My 7 year old cat, Bo, went for a check up about 5 months ago. He had plaque on his teeth. So we scheduled a cleaning. Three teeth were extracted, and the dentist called me to say that his canines were "somewhat loose" and that a FISTULA was developing. She wanted to remove the canines. I didn't want to and told her I'd wait on that.

He was fine for about 4 months. Lately I took a look at his mouth and yes, there is some irritation around his canines.

Took him to a different vet, who said he needs another teeth cleaning, and for sure his canines need to come out, but that he doesn't have anything called a fistula and that the teeth aren't loose, but there is some root showing. And it will cost $800 to do the work.

Now when I have irritated gums, I do clean better, eat better, and eventually the irritation goes away. My dentist doesn't recommend pulling my teeth.

I've read about FIV and FlV causing gingivitis ... and am at a standstill. He's having blood work done and I'm thinkng I should wait for the results before deciding to have the teeth pulled.

It seems very drastic. How do cats react to having no upper canines?

Any experience, help, advice would be appreciated! Thanks very much
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Old 12-07-2006, 12:15 AM   #2 (permalink)
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From your description, it sounds like the canines have cavities, in addition to gingivitis. Unfortunately, cats get a different kind of cavity than dogs or humans. They get a special type called Feline Odontoclastic Resorptive Lesions, or FORLs for short. These start just below the gumline and eventually eat a hole all the way through the tooth. This likely accounts for the gingival irritation by the canines. Because of the nature of these cavities, the only way to treat them is with extraction or in some cases with a root canal. From the people I have talked to, root canals are much more expensive and don't really confer any benefit to the cat.

So your veterinarian did an FIV/FeLV blood test? It is always a possibility that your cat has one of these illnesses, but dental disease is extremely common in healthy cats as well. I have read stats that say 75% of cats over the age of 3 have an FORL. This has certainly held true for my kitties. Two of them have had 3 teeth removed, and the third (Levi) has only his incisors and two molars left.

Levi has done very well without his canines. He had the bottom two removed about two years ago, and the top two 6 months ago. He did not show any problems except for a little bit of mouth soreness for the first bit. He is completely on canned food, so he does not have issues with chewing.

Cleo, one of my other cats has also had an upper canine removed due to a fracture of the tip of the tooth. The only issue she had was that the lower canine would press into her upper lip and caused a bit of an ulceration. That part of the lip eventually grew a bit more tough and she adjusted to holding her lips slightly differently. So, in my experience, kitties don't even notice that their canines are gone.

I can't really comment about the fistula, but it sounds like the extractions are necessary for your kitty. Your kitty may be one of the unlucky ones that just was born with bad teeth. Despite brushing Levi's teeth everyday, he continues to get FORLs and has to have the teeth removed. Some cats are just more predisposed than others. Best of luck with your decision!
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Old 12-07-2006, 09:36 AM   #3 (permalink)
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if your cat does have the resorptive lesions, there may not be much you can do. They can actually become very painful and cause problems eating. I'm going to have to make the decision to have some teeth pulled from my cat probably the next time he has his teeth cleaned... he's got two lesions that haven't yet affected the teeth, but they will.

As for how cats do with no teeth... we have a doctor at our clinic with an FIV positive cat. He had horrible teeth, and was going to live with 10 or so other cats... so she had all of his teeth pulled. He eats only dry food and has no problems at all.
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Old 12-07-2006, 09:47 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Most cats don't chew their food anyway, so if you feed wet food or dry food with small kibble, your cat won't have any problems.
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Old 12-07-2006, 12:16 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Resorptive lesions are common, but cats can get "normal" tooth decay too. If the root is exposed at the gumline, that sounds like typical resorptive lesions. It is very painful for the cat. My vet told me that some cats seem like entirely different creatures afterwards, energetic and affectionate more than before. I would take them seriously if they are recommending removal of teeth.
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Old 12-07-2006, 03:20 PM   #6 (permalink)
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I would go ahead and get the teeth pulled. Any cavities or infections are likely causing your cat pain. There is also the possibility that an infection in the mouth can spread to vital organs and make your cat very sick.
As for how cats do without their canines, I doubt they'd really notice except for the lack of pain that they caused before. Trixie doesn't have either of her bottom canines and it doesn't affect her at all.

($800 for teeth cleaning an extraction!?! yikes... I pay something like $95 plus $5 for each extracted tooth.... )
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Old 12-09-2006, 09:14 AM   #7 (permalink)
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I was on a little while ago re gingivitus & was given helpful advice from coaster.
On thursday after several months of monitoring my cat went to have some teeth out & in the end the vet had to take all but 3 front teeth. The way she is now after only a couple of days I really wish this op had been done months ago.She is so full of life & is eating very well
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Old 12-09-2006, 05:09 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Default thanks, re extraction

Thanks for all of your help. Surgery is scheduled for next Wednesday but Bo is feeling better. He's quite frisky, and although he hurt the day we came back from all the probing, he let's me mess with his mouth, nuzzles and does all the normal things, including playing and eating canned food.

So it makes it harder to decide to go ahead with the extration.

I've talked again to the vet and at least got more information about options (ie. antibiotics) and why this condition occurs.

I was concerned about the lower canines and his top lip, so thanks for that information.

And I got a bit of info from a vet I visited. She recommends that cats chew on raw chicken wings. The soft bones help clean their teeth and they get an unprocessed source of protein.

thanks again, I'll keep reading.
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Old 12-09-2006, 05:44 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Make sure that your cat actually chews and crunches up the bones before swallowing. Some cats don't know what to do when given a raw chicken wing.
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