questionswhat are your opinions on getting a cats teeth…


one of mine needs a cleaning and the vet offered to bundle it with another anesthesia procedure the cat was getting but didn't end up getting. the vet instead gave me a baggie of some super crunchy tartar cleaning cat food. she said 1 food piece every few weeks should help and the baggie should last me years. so far the cat's fine and gets full checkups and shots every year

are you talking about pulling just the molars in the back? i think for cleanings, you'll have to schedule regular cleanings like every year or so. ask your vet how often you'd need to repeat the procedure. the extraction might "pay for itself" vs 2 yearly cleanings. but depending on how many teeth are pulled, the cat may have to have wet cat food for the rest of its life, vs regular dry (cheaper than wet)
letting the teeth just go naturally could turn painful if the infection comes back. i googled a bit and read stories of people's cats refusing to eat, being much less active, and other stuff due to pain or rotting


I'm a veterinarian, so I have prejudices pro and con on this issue. First, let me say that many of my colleagues way over-sell dentistry. It's all the rage as a "profit center." It's possible to really rake in the bucks with cleaning, extractions, fillings, xrays, labwork - the possibilities are almost endless. I get a lot of clients coming to me because they were quoted $1K to clean their animals teeth elsewhere. Sometimes I look at the critter and can barely see any tartar, so I know they were being sold a bill of goods. That said, $300 is not out of line for cleaning a cat's teeth, though it is about twice what I charge. In your case, you say the cat had infected molars. If so, there are some serious problems present and the cat probably does need some work. I would likely lean toward extraction of the offending teeth and cleaning of whatever is left and healthy. If the cat is currently doing well, one could wait until the teeth flare up again (and they probably will).


While I am not a vet like nortonsark, I have worked in a veterinary office for many years. In cases like this, I most often see the vet suggest that the cat have a thorough cleaning and get the offending teeth removed at the same time (if they are completely rotted due to gingivitis/whatever other buildup). I'm not sure if that's what your vet is suggesting, but just think about how painful it is when you have a cavity or any sort of pain in your mouth- you can't eat well, and you'll see a general failure to thrive, so I would suggest definitely not just "letting the teeth go naturally." In the end it's you and your mom's final decision. Oh, and a final note, I've seen many dogs and cats live great for years with little to no teeth. My grandma's dog, in fact, ended up having ALL of his teeth pulled and he lived a happy life with wet food for another 2 years, so definitely don't worry about how pulling the teeth could affect the cat's life. Hope that helps!


Another point I forgot to mention- cleaning the teeth may not save any of the rotted/diseased teeth, but it could prevent any of the other teeth from falling to the same demise.


@nortonsark: Where do you practice, and can you take care of Starbuck the Wonder Pom's awful teeth?

I've had several animals, some with great teeth, others with awful teeth. Aforementioned Pomeranian needs frequent cleanings: he just has awful teeth and despite brushing gets horrible breath (sign of gum and tooth problems). His friend the himalayan cat has needed teeth cleaning once, too.

I do believe nortonsark that vets are piling on the "pre-op laboratory evaluation". I'm a people doctor, and I will tell you that there is no such thing anymore as necessary lab evaluation for an uncomplicated minor surgery. If kitty is otherwise in good health it isn't necessary, so don't let the vet talk you into it.

$300 for the dentistry and extractions isn't bad. And I think that it may save money in the long run, and certainly will make the animal more comfortable.


We has a similar experience where one tooth was very bad & had to be removed. It was done under anesthesia and they cleaned his teeth also. It was a couple hundred bucks, but we also had the yrly physical done. We got some of the harder food for tartar as w00tgurl mentioned, give them Greenies treats, & try to use those finger toothbrush kits for cats that comes with the super-delicious-sounding poultry flavor toothpaste. ymmv with a devilcat though.

We have not gotten the full cleaning since, but do have the teeth checked yearly to keep on top of any problems. The best thing the vet recommended was getting them to drink more fresh water. So we added a water fountain. So far, no more tooth trouble.

I vote for getting the teeth cleaned. Our cat had it done when he was 11 - so hopefully it was a once/lifetime thing.


I've had my dogs teeth cleaned about 4-5 times throughout her life.. My vet only charges about $125 for the service as well.


One of my cats had her teeth cleaned for about $250 last year. On her regular checkup the vet showed me the plaque buildup on her molars and it was bad, so I don't think that in my case I was being sold the procedure just for profit. Since then we have been feeding her more tartar-control treats and sometimes Greenies. Her next checkup will be sometime in the next month so we'll see how it's going. My hope is the one time the procedure was done will be enough.

I'm in the camp of getting the infected teeth pulled, as there's nothing you can do there. Also, if any of the cat's healthy teeth are accumulating plaque, get them cleaned now to prevent infection in the future. Try to keep them cleaner after that.

I understand why your mother is afraid of putting her cat under anesthesia. However, you and she have to weigh the temporary risk of having the cat anesthetized against the long-term discomfort for the cat from having infected teeth.


@wilfbrim: Norton's Ark is in Redmond WA, home of Microsoft. I agree with you whole-heartedly that pre-op laboratory workup is over sold, probably because a lot of practices have invested in table-top blood analyzers. What is the point of a physical exam if it has no bearing on evaluating general health?


As a shelter worker who has seen many dental problems I can tell you that if you just let it go, it can cause major health problems for the pet. We've gotten some stray dogs in whose teeth were so bad that their entire lower jaw rotted to the point of almost breaking in half. I'm not exaggerating, it was horrifying. It's not a common sight, but after everything I've seen, I try to make a point of getting my dogs' teeth cleaned once per year.
I think $300 is a bit high though. You can try doing a google search for low-cost vet care in your area and maybe come up with a better deal.


Thank you for all the advice.

Nortonsark, I wish I lived in Wa, I would go to you. I trust my vet not to be just pushing the procedure, she has been nothing but wonderful with my cats, and my dog (laid to rest almost 3 years ago now). Never overcharging for anything, or pushing stuff that didn't need to be done. I thought the price was high myself, but after calling around, and having a few friends tell me what they were charged, I don't think it's bad.

One of my friends was quoted $500-600, he let it go and eventually the cats tooth fell out (it was one of the larger teeth in the front).

She mostly eats canned food anyway, so having them pulled probably won't affect her eating, nor the cost of feeding her. I'll buy her more crunchy treats.

My moms concern with the anesthesia springs from the vet who spayed her (NOT our current vet). He screwed up all three of my females when he spayed them. Looks like I'll just have it done though, I hate the idea of her being in pain.


Well, this is way later than the last post, but I just want to say that we lost our cat due to a dental cleaning on 06/06/13. Was told that her heart stopped shortly after they put her under. She was only 6-1/2 years old, and we have been to the same vet for over 3 years, since we adopted her from a local animal shelter. We cannot say if she had a heart condition, but I would make sure your vet states they STAY with your pet during the entire procedure - I think if they had, our Breeze would have been fine. I am not blaming the vet, or anything like that, but I think dental cleaning has become so "routine" for some vets, and they could have paid a little more attention - to say the least, our hearts are broken!