What causes pet dental problems, and how can they be treated?
Dear Dr. Baum —
My 13 year old cat has dental problems. He has a coating of brownish plaque all over his teeth along with a green substance along the right back side of his gums. His dental problems have been ongoing. What do you believe this problem is? What can be done? Is it very expensive to treat?
With my first check, I would love to fix this and hopefully prolong his life. I’m 16 and working part-time and I don’t have a lot of money. My mother refuses to pay for vet bills. Please answer. Your advice could maybe convince her to help me pay.
New York City, NY
The basic question is relatively easy, but the solution could vary from easy to complex.
What you describe on the teeth is a deposition of a substance known as tarter. This results from a failure to keep the teeth clean. Tarter is a good place for bacteria to hang out and cause infections in the surrounding gums. When infections occur the gums will often swell and have a foul odor. Ultimately the teeth start to loosen and can fall out. Infections in the mouth can also cause problems in the heart or kidneys. The obvious remedy is to have the teeth cleaned. Depending on the cat’s state of health this can be a minor procedure or a more serious one as in most cases a general anesthetic is used. My advice is to have your cat examined by a veterinarian. He or she may want to do a blood test prior to giving an anesthetic.
After the teeth are cleaned and any infections are cleared up, you should start a program of oral hygiene. This would consist of wiping or gently brushing the teeth at home one to two times per week.
Costs for these services can vary from $200 and up.
If you live in the Los Angeles area, and your pet’s teeth need an exam, cleaning or other work, check our CSAH Low Cost Dental Clinics
For more information on your pet’s dental health care, please read pet dental health care tips. For more about pet teeth cleaning, please click cat teeth cleaning. This Q&A from Dr. B offers more for our cat-loving friends on cat gum disease.