Romeo's dental surprise
As we know, cats are incredibly good at hiding disease and pain! Take Persian prince Romeo for example. (Or Rrrrrrromeo if we are being proper!) He doesn’t look a day over 5, but this 9-year-old kitty has kept his good looks and charm thanks to some attentive care and good nutrition from his family. When Romeo presented for his twice-yearly senior check-up and bloods, his paw-rent confirmed he was drinking normally, still jumping up to his usual sun spot on the window, and playing with his toys with usual enthusiasm. It was only during his health examination that we spotted some build-up of calculus over his molars; but his appetite hadn’t changed and was eating biscuits/dry food normally. So, what was going on?
After Romeo’s blood and urine tests returned a perfect bill of health, it was time to look closer at his teeth. While under a general anaesthetic, it became clear we were only seeing a fraction of the problem.
Romeo’s radiograph findings
At the root of the molars in the first x-ray we start to see loss of definition to the roots and periodontal ligament (black line around the roots) gone – the roots have fused to the soft bone as the body tried to absorb the damaged roots. This can be a very painful process while there are pressures and manipulations on the affected crowns. The crowns of the teeth were amputated, bone burred below the surface of the gum and sutured closed. As you can see there aren’t well defined roots to extract and we can cause more trauma by trying – now these lesions are closed over with gum, once healed, are nicely protected to continue resorbing painlessly.
Romeo needed to have a gum (gingival) flap created for the tooth on the right as the two cranial roots were not displaying resorptive lesions, and may not have ‘dissolved’, causing future problems.
Before and After - But Wait!
We could tell immediately from his x-rays, but look closely near the green arrow and you will see some pink granulation (healing) tissue trying to fill in where Romeo’s crown has been eroded away. Not much is given away on the surface!
Romeo's Surgical Extractions
This tooth (the ‘carnassial’) has 3 roots and requires surgical extraction. The gum is elevated away, soft bone soft burred to expose the root. Crown is sectioned with a cutting bur and then winged elevators used to break the remaining ligaments.
The empty extraction site is then burred down so there are no sharp edges, and the gum closed with stitches to facilitate healing. These stitches may last a few weeks/months but the actual gum only takes about a week to heal.
Why Romeo might need extractions again soon
These images are the same x-ray view of a cat just 10 months apart (there was significant gingivitis and infection around this tooth in the x-ray to the right). Such drastic changes occurred as a result of existing dental disease, factors like saliva composition, overcrowding, as well as a consequence of other dental extractions (no longer having opposite teeth to bite against).
Once a cat demonstrates resorptive lesions, it is highly likely that other teeth will eventually become affected. The great news is dental surgery is curative, and cats with no ‘teefies’ can eat comfortably with pain-free mouths!
Thanks to his complete dental, Romeo’s mum can rest easy knowing he is pain free. As a part of our Best For Pet program, Romeo’s meowmy saves $250 off his dental treatments each year, as well as redeeming his free wellness bloods and urine (another $212 value!). Ask our friendly staff more about our membership program that can save you hundreds off your vet bills.