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Dental IQ Test Your Feline Dental IQ!

How much do you know about feline teeth and dental care? Test your knowledge of feline dental IQ on the questions and then check your answers at the bottom!

  1. Assuming a cat has all its teeth, how many teeth does an adult cat have?

  2. How old are kittens when they start to get their baby teeth? When do they start to lose their baby teeth?

  3. How many teeth do cats need to have to eat wet food? Dry food?

  4. What is the No. 1 activity you can do at home to prevent dental disease?

  5. What is the single most important reason for addressing dental disease as early as possible?

  6. Why is it absolutely critical to treat dental disease in our feline friends? List 3 reasons.

  7. What are some of the signs of dental disease in your kitty that you can look for yourself?

  8. What should you insist be included in dental surgery? List 5 things.

  9. What are 3 critical components of a professional dental cleaning that cannot be done thoroughly without the benefit of general anesthesia?

  10. Although cats under general anesthesia need to be closely monitored at all times, what is the most critically important time to be sure that these patients are monitored?

  11. Give two reasons why intravenous fluid administration is critical for all patients undergoing general anesthesia, including oral surgery.

  12. It is recommended by the American Veterinary Dental College that all patients undergoing oral surgery, or an oral assessment and treatment plan, undergo X-rays of all the teeth in the mouth (just like what is done yearly when we see our own human dentists). With digital radiology systems, a tiny sensor is placed inside the mouth and images are projected digitally onto a computer screen. How many radiographs, or pictures, need to be taken to enable the veterinarian to fully evaluate every crown and root in the cat's mouth, assuming the cat has all its teeth?

  13. How long should food be withheld from feline patients prior to anesthesia for oral surgery?

  14. In addition to state-of-the-art anesthesia and anesthetic monitoring at a cat-friendly facility, what is the one other critical component to cat-friendly oral surgery?

  15. True or false: It's ok to leave a broken tooth in place as long as it is not causing pain or is not infected.

  16. True or false: Effective dental cleaning can be performed in patients who are awake or lightly sedated, without the use of anesthesia.

  17. What is the most common tooth-related problem cats encounter unrelated to tartar or gum disease? Examples: trauma, resorptive lesions, oral masses, cavities, etc.

  18. Which of the following statements is true about feline resorptive lesions? a) They can be excruciatingly painful b) They can occur anywhere on the tooth (from crown to root), but tend to occur most frequently at and just below the gumline c) The most common and effective treatment of them is surgical extraction of the affected tooth d) Their cause is unknown e) All of the above

  19. How old is too old for a cat to have dental work done under anesthesia?

  20. How soon does plaque reform after a thorough dental cleaning?

  21. How often do most cats need to have their teeth cleaned?

  22. Are antibiotics always needed for dental procedures in cats: yes, no, or sometimes?

  23. How often should I brush my cat's teeth? a) daily b) twice weekly c) weekly d) monthly e) once in a blue moon

  24. How many deciduous teeth (baby teeth) does a kitten have?

  25. Are there any diets or treats that can help to improve the health of my cat's teeth?


  1. 30

  2. 2 weeks old. 14 weeks old.

  3. None!

  4. Brush! Brush! Brush! Like people, cats should have their teeth brushed to prevent plaque and tarter build-up. See Toothbrushing 101 for a video demonstration of toothbrushing in cats.

  5. Dental disease IS REVERSIBLE, but ONLY in stage 1 of the dental disease process. This is why dental procedures are often recommended even though the teeth "don't look that bad."

  6. 1. To alleviate pain and discomfort, which can be significant. 2. To prevent the spread of infection to internal organs, including the heart, kidneys and GI tract. 3. To retard the progression of dental disease that results in tooth loss.

  7. 1. A dark red line on the edge of the gum 2. Bad breath 3. Pawing at the mouth 4. Decreased appetite 5. No signs at all - your cat doesn't let you poke around his or her mouth

  8. 1. Dedicated anesthetist whose sole responsibility is to accompany the patient and ensure the appropriate administration of anesthesia medications throughout the entire anesthesia period 2. Administration of intravenous fluids 3. Dental X-rays 4. Monitoring of vital signs including heart rate, respiratory rate, blood pressure, heart activity, and body temperature 5. Pain management

  9. 1. Comprehensive examination of all oral tissues and structures 2. Dental X-rays 3. Surgical extractions

  10. Statistically, this has been shown to be the immediate post-operative recovery period as the patient is waking up. While most cats who undergo anesthesia do not experience complications, the majority of potentially fatal complications occur in the immediate post-operative recovery period, therefore, a bed- or cage-side nurse is absolutely critical until the patient is 100% awake and behaving normally.

  11. 1. To maintain blood pressure to support the brain, kidney function and other vital organs 2. To provide intravenous access should the immediate administration of emergency drugs be needed

  12. 6 to 8, depending on patient size

  13. For 2 to 4 hours

  14. Pain management, pain management, pain management. It's critical that a multi-modal approach is employed that incorporates appropriate drugs as well as alternative treatments to manage pain in patients having undergone oral surgery.

  15. False. A broken tooth by definition is exposing the vital nerve center and is painful. Since cats can't complain of pain and are masters at hiding it, we must always assume pain is present. Additionally, since the vital structure of the tooth is open, bacteria will travel to the root and set up shop. This causes chronic, low level infection, and in some cases, can cause full-blown abscesses.

  16. False. Some pet professionals advocate "awake" dental cleaning in cats, and claim it is as effective as sedated dental cleaning but without the risks of anesthesia. When a cat is awake, however, all the pet professional can really do is clean the crown (visible part of the tooth). It simply is not possible to take dental X-rays to evaluate root health, effectively probe for gum disease, examine the spaces between the teeth or address periodontal disease in cats that are awake, and more than 60% of dental disease occurs under the gumline and in the spaces between the teeth. So for an effective dental cleaning and a thorough oral health evaluation, cats must be sedated. Additionally, anesthesia-free dental cleaning is frightening and stressful for cats, and in the state of Illinois, dental surgery by law only can be performed by licensed veterinarians.

  17. Resorptive lesions are the most common tooth-related problem cats encounter unrelated to tartar or gum disease. Resorptive lesions are characterized by the destruction and resorption of teeth by specialized cells called odontoclasts. In animals and in people, these odontoclast cells cause the resorption of the roots of baby teeth to allow for adult teeth to erupt. In cats, however, these odontoclast cells also are sometimes inexplicably triggered to dissolve the enamel of adult teeth, which is painful and different from the cavities that occur in people.

  18. 5. All of the above.

  19. No age is too old, and cats of all ages are prone to dental problems and pain.

  20. In just 6 to 8 hours. This is why starting diligent dental homecare ASAP following a dental procedure is a must to help keep the mouth as healthy as possible.

  21. As often as necessary. There are cats that can go years between professional dental cleanings and have pristine, healthy mouths. There are others that need to have dental work every few months. The majority fall in between.

  22. Sometimes. Antibiotics are not needed for the majority of patients. Following a routine dental cleaning (scaling of tartar both above and below the gum line), most patients will experience a temporary bacteremia (shedding of bacteria into the bloodstream). In healthy animals, the immune system is capable of eliminating bacteria from the bloodstream resulting in a rapid decline of bacteria without the use of antibiotics. However, for some animals, antibiotics are appropriate and should be used. These situations may include: • Animals with underlying disease, such as those involving the heart, kidneys, or liver • Animals with compromised immune systems (cats infected with feline leukemia virus, feline immunodeficiency virus, or cats undergoing chemotherapy) • Cats with severe oral infections

  23. A. Daily - if at all possible. Brushing any less often than 2-3 times per week will not be effective in reducing plaque and tartar buildup. The tooth brushing "event" should be as pleasurable as possible for your kitty (or at least as unpleasant as possible). This should be something that helps not only to keep your kitty in good oral health, but it should also help to maintain a positive bond with your kitty. See Toothbrushing 101 for a video demonstration of toothbrushing in cats.

  24. 26

  25. Yes, there are specially designed dental diets and treats that can help to retard buildup of plaque and tartar between your cat's dental cleanings, and may even extend the interval between cleanings (especially if used in conjunction with other homecare treatments, such as daily brushing). Keep in mind, however, that not all products with a dental claim on their label are effective in promoting dental health. An independent organization called the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC), awards a Seal of Acceptance to veterinary dental diets and products that meet a set standard in plaque and tartar reduction in animals. Feline VOHC products include Hill's Feline Prescription Diet TD, Purina's Prescription Diet DH, Royal Canin's Prescription Feline Dental Diet, Science Diet Oral Care, Feline Greenies treats, and ESSENTIAL healthymouth anti-plaque water additive, anti-plaque gel, and anti-plaque spray.

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