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Dental cleanings may be very straightforward, or they can be extremely involved oral surgery if severe periodontal disease is present. Tooth extraction is frequently necessary for teeth with resorptive lesions or with significant bone loss under the gumline. Appropriate dental care should ALWAYS include radiographs of all of the teeth, not just the obviously diseased ones, as frequently there is disease under the gumline that would be missed by just looking at the surface.
The best treatment, as for most things, is prevention if possible. Tooth brushing, some dental treats, and other products may be beneficial for some cats. There is also some thought that canned food is better for cats’ teeth than dry because it doesn’t have so much sugar in it to help contribute to the formation of plaque and tartar. Dry food for the most part, contrary to popular belief, does not actually help scrape off tartar and plaque.
If prevention is not effective or not enough, most owners are very impressed with how much better their cats feel after having the dental work completed. First of all, the improvement in cat breath is dramatic!! In addition, the chronic pain associated with dental disease is now gone, and often times the cat's whole personality improves. They can't tell us they hurt! We never get tired of hearing how happy people are to have their cat back! Things develop and change so slowly that sometimes people don't even realize how much their cat has changed. And the health benefits to having a healthy mouth again can't possibly be understated.
If you have any questions at all about your cat's oral health, ask your vet, and have her show you the teeth and gums at every visit.