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Teeth cleaning on senior cat

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 
My cat princess is 16 years old. Her breath is really bad and one of her canine teeth is missing. She has stopped eating dry food and only eats wet food. She is probably in pain. I am thinking of having her teeth cleaned at the vets and have that broken off tooth taken care of but I am worried about her being so old and having anesthesia. I will have blood work done beforehand of course and will talk about it with my vet. What do you guys think? Would you do the cleaning? How risky is this at her age? Should I just let her be? But I don't want her to be in pain.
post #2 of 9
If your felt feels it's safe and the results of her senior panel are good, I'd definitely go ahead with it. My 17-year-old kitty, Katie, is actually scheduled for a dental cleaning tomorrow (had her blood work done a couple of weeks ago).

Untreated dental infections can cause serious damage to a cat's heart and kidneys, so if a cat's teeth are in bad shape, dental cleaning is important for its overall health. From what my vet and I have discussed, there are precautions that can and should be taken for dental procedures on elderly cats. With Katie, for example, who's in very early stage renal failure, my vet wants me to drop her off early so they can get her started on IV fluids before the procedure. Here's a link to additional info about senior cats and
dental cleaning:
post #3 of 9
16 is still a safe age for a dental if there is no heart disease or some other serious health problem.
Two of mine had dentals at that age. One was 16, the other one was almost 18. Both did very well without problems or complications.

If you can afford it, it would be an important precaution to have a heart ultrasound done to make sure anesthesia will be safe.
post #4 of 9
I will be in the minority but unless there is a Major infection or a need for a teeth pull I would not do it ... so far I can trace 10 deaths to dentals in senior animals and my vet has traced many many more ... Have the vet do a through visual check as there is a way to sometimes clean without putting kitty under
post #5 of 9
Very important article for information:

From this article:

Dental Disease

Heavy tartar (calculus), tooth decay, and inflammation (gingivitis or stomatitis) are extremely common in older cats. Erosions and abscesses of the teeth can be extremely painful, but because cats are typically stoic, guardians may not notice any symptoms. However, once the infected teeth are extracted, most cats do very well, bouncing back with better energy and appetite than before. Many guardians find that their cat acts "years younger" or "like a kitten" after surgery. While there are certainly increased risks of anesthesia in an older cat, proper preparation, support, and monitoring make dental procedures, even in very old cats, reasonably safe. Maintaining oral health is extremely important in keeping an older cat healthy and comfortable; it's wise to get a check-up every 6 months. And if your veterinarian recommends dental care, just do it! (For more on dental disease, see Dental Care for Cats.)
post #6 of 9
All the deaths were done with support... Reasonable is the key word and after Directly linking that many deaths to dentals I no longer think they are reasonable unless there is a LEGIT reason such as a abscess or or infection ....

In older animals the diet is more likely to help dental issues ... as it is No longer usually genetics
post #7 of 9
I strongly disagree and I would never, ever try to talk anybody out of having a much needed dental done. Nobody should. I do mean that. Nobody. Not fair to the poor cat that is in pain. Also, some dental problems can't be seen unless the cat is under anesthesia. The pain such problems can cause can be incredible, so terrible, it can cause a cat to stop eating. Even canned food.

Some years ago one of our cats developed a painful problem from a broken tooth. The crown was completely gone, missing. We didn't know when that had happened because nothing showed. The root was still there, buried under the gums. We didn't know that either. When the vet examined her mouth, he didn't see anything out of the ordinary.
We were preparing for a regular dental just to clean the teeth because she was eating less and less and seemed to be in pain when she was eating. Then a few days later she stopped eating completely. So the dental was scheduled immediately. And the root still in her mouth and the painful complications it had caused were discovered.

Just from this experience alone (we've had others as well) I could never, with a clear conscience, talk anybody out of a dental when the person has reason to believe their cat needs one.

The big problem is that pain caused by dental problems requiring treatment doesn't go away. It only gets worse. But I have to say, I don't know anybody, not one person, who would let their cat suffer rather than have their vet do a very necessary dental to take care of whatever must be taken care of to help the poor cat.
post #8 of 9
Talk with the vet about your concerns... I know that some vets have ways of pulling a tooth ( which may be your case) without putting the cat fully under... IMHO no it is not safe with a cat of that age unless you have no other options... Ask what type of anesthetic the vet uses as some are safer than others .. along with what method they use with it( mask, gas , iv ).. There are supportive measures that can be taken to help reduce the risk... Unfortunately nothing is without risk... another option is ask your vet for a referral to a dental specialist( YES there are such specialized vets not many)

Amazingly ,I knew an animal with a similar issue with a broke tooth and putting totally under was not necessary ...
post #9 of 9
I probably would never have a 'standard' tooth cleaning done on a cat of that age, but I definitely would have a problem treated--with the advice of my vet.

I think it's essential to have a vet you can trust. When my girl was 16, she had an infected tooth extracted under anesthesia with no problems at all. However, after age 18, my vet advised that her condition would not bear any but absolutely essential treatments, which, fortunately, we did not have to consider before her death at close to 20.

During her 'older years,' my vet was an invaluable source of advice in how to make her more confortable.
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