As cats grow older, they often start to suffer from tooth decay and similar ailments. A way of treating this is often to pull the teeth. Usually, this procedure is done by a cat dentist. However, the commonality of tooth extractions in cats has led some people to believe that's all cat dentists do — which is not the case. Some cat tooth problems can be handled without extraction. Here are some other procedures cat dentists perform quite regularly.
Prophylactic Teeth Cleaning
Prophylactic teeth cleaning is a common procedure performed by feline dentists. When done by a professional, this procedure involves a lot more than just brushing. Your cat is typically put under anesthesia, which means the dentist can take a closer look and do a more thorough job of cleaning the teeth. The dentist will use a series of metal scraping tools to remove the tartar from the gum line, and also from a little below the gums, when possible.
Prophylactic teeth cleaning is mostly a preventative treatment. Removing the tartar prevents the teeth from developing additional bacterial decay. However, it can also be a treatment for gum disease. If your cat has gum disease, which causes red and painful gums, removing the tartar and the bacteria from the gum line can help the gums heal.
Cats can develop a disease called feline tooth resorption. This condition causes the cat's body to start resorbing the tooth tissue, or in other words, dissolving it. If the disease progresses past a certain point before it is caught, the dentist may have to extract the affected teeth. However, if the disease is caught early, the dentist may be able to perform what's known as a crown amputation.
In a crown amputation, the affected part of the tooth is removed, but the rest of the tooth is left in place. This is done under anesthesia so your cat is asleep and unaware of what's happening. Removing the crown will generally ease the cat's pain and allow them to continue eating. Sometimes, however, the disease continues to progress and the cat eventually needs to have the whole tooth extracted.
While cat dentists do often need to pull cats' teeth, they do generally take steps in an attempt to avoid this. In many cases, they can perform prophylactic teeth cleaning as a preventative or treatment for gum disease. And they can also try to save some resorbing teeth via a crown amputation.