Feline dental charting is a critical skill for your veterinary dentistry practice. A dental chart can describe a cat’s dentistry issues, including plaque buildup, tooth loss, and overcrowding by retained deciduous teeth. Pet owners can then work with their veterinary dentistry professionals to develop a treatment to prevent further tooth loss and decay.
As veterinarians, you can use a cat’s dental chart to explain how gingivitis allows bacteria access to bone and tooth material or how the loss of a cat’s different multirooted teeth can affect its quality of life.
Common Questions and Useful Info
Whether you as a veterinarian need a refresher on some dental chart basics or a cat owner needs more information about feline dental charting, you’ll find answers to your questions below.
What Is the Feline Dental Formula?
Cats have 30 adult teeth, and a veterinary technician in animal dentistry can use the feline dental formula when charting a cat’s teeth. The formula is 2 (I3/I3, C1/C1, P3/P2, M1/M1), which a veterinary dentistry professional can use to define a patient’s teeth according to their location in the oral cavity.
Dental charting includes mapping the quadrant, then assigning a number for incisors, canine teeth, premolar teeth, and molars. The feline dental technician can then describe any tooth problems on the dental chart, such as signs of periodontal disease or retained deciduous teeth.
Which Teeth in Cats Have 3 Roots?
The maxillary fourth premolar has three roots (that is, the fourth premolar tooth on the upper row of teeth). Cats have ten premolars that they use to break up food during chewing. Premolars begin erupting from the gums around 4-6 months in age.
Dental disease can affect the tooth surface, gums, and roots. It can lead to tartar buildup, tooth loss, gingivitis, periodontal disease, and other tooth problems requiring dental procedures like extraction or surgery with anesthesia.
What are the Feline Carnassial Teeth?
Carnassial teeth are teeth in carnivores that slide past each other on the top and bottom row to cut through meat and flesh. In cats, the carnassial teeth are the fourth maxillary premolars (108 and 208) and the first mandibular molars (309 and 409).
Pain from a fractured tooth or dental disease in the carnassial teeth can kill wild animals like wolves, bears, and lions due to an inability to eat if the damage is severe enough. Your veterinary technician can use dental radiography and charting to identify problems with carnassial teeth. They can then recommend dental procedures like a fractured tooth extraction or gingivitis treatment.
Which Mandibular Teeth Are Cats Missing Compared to Dogs?
The feline dental formula is an adjustment from the canine dental formula. Dogs normally have 42 permanent teeth, leading to gaps or “missing teeth” in the numbering system for cats.
The “missing” teeth for cats include:
- The first maxillary and mandibular premolar, 105, 205, 305, and 405
- The second mandibular premolars, 306 and 406
- The maxillary second molar, 110 and 210
- The mandibular second and third molars, 310, 311, 410, and 411
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Feline Dental Chart with Roots
The American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) offers steps that pet owners can take to ensure caring for pet oral health with appropriate veterinary dentistry.¹ Pet owners and veterinary professionals can see the most recent AAHA veterinary practice guidelines for oral examination, dental radiography, tooth extraction, and anesthesia for dental procedures in this AAHA dental guidelines PDF.¹
When dental charting a cat’s mouth with the AAHA feline dental record, a veterinary dentistry professional will add findings from the oral examination to the inside blanks, recommendations for treatment to the outer blanks of the dental chart, and indications inside the boxes if the pet’s owner sought or declined treatment.
For example, a veterinary dentist could note tartar buildup on the incisors 101 and 102, an increased pocket depth of the gingival sulcus of the 2nd and 3rd maxillary premolars 206 and 207, and a fracture of the 4th mandibular premolar 408 through the crown enamel, dentine, and pulp cavity.
In this case, the veterinary dentistry professional might recommend a tooth extraction of the broken tooth, a periodontal probe of the pocket depth to test for gingivitis or periodontitis, and professional cleaning of each tooth to remove plaque and tartar from the tooth surface.
Feline Dental Chart with Numbers
Some veterinary offices create their own dental chart using numbers for deciduous teeth or adult teeth, depending on the cat’s age.
Accurate dental charting during feline oral health appointments is essential in fighting plaque buildup, tooth loss, tooth resorption, and gum and mouth diseases. Veterinary professionals will update a cat’s medical record with a dental chart to build the patient history with veterinary dentistry.Want a print-friendly poster of a Feline Dental Chart for Your Veterinary office?
Cat Dental Care
Pet parents can do a lot at home to help care for a cat’s permanent teeth. Some steps to recommend to your clients include:
- Taking their cat for annual dentistry visits at your vet’s office
- Brushing their cat’s teeth with a cat-friendly toothbrush and toothpaste
- Feeding the cat special dental treats approved by the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC)
- Using special rinses or gels in the cat’s oral cavity to protect against plaque and tartar buildup
As a veterinary dentistry professional, be sure to advise cat owners if they should add any of these dental care steps to their cat’s routine.
What Can a Pet Owner Do If a Cat’s Teeth Are Rotting?
Tooth loss is common in cats for several different reasons. Sometimes acidic tartar buildup can eat through the enamel in the crown and damage the pulp cavity beneath, causing sensitivity and pain.
Other times, a cat may develop gingivitis or periodontitis, just like humans. A veterinary dentist can test for gingivitis and its severity using a periodontal probe to measure the gingival sulcus.
A cat’s mouth has several multirooted teeth that all perform different functions. If a cat has dental health issues, be sure to inform the pet owner about treatment to correct the problems and home care to maintain good dental health.
Common treatments include dental cleaning, scaling to remove buildup, and polishing to prevent buildup. You may also prescribe antibiotics if the cat has an infection.
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Feline Dental Disease
Cats often suffer from dental disease and tooth loss over their lifetimes, including:
- Gingivitis. Tooth overcrowding and infrequent cleaning can lead to plaque buildup that can cause gingivitis. Plaque moves below the gumline, triggering an immune response that leads to inflammation of the gums.
- Periodontitis. Periodontitis is an advanced form of gingivitis where the tissues that connect the tooth to the jaw and gums weaken, causing loose teeth or complete tooth loss. A dental examination for periodontitis includes x-rays that require anesthesia.
- Tooth Resorption. Some cats will lose teeth from the inside as odontoclast cells leech calcium from the inside of the tooth, eroding the tooth internally. Dentists often recommend tooth extraction for affected teeth. The cause of tooth resorption is unknown.
While not often fatal, infections caused by feline dental diseases can sometimes reach the bloodstream, leading to serious illness or death. Regular veterinary dentistry visits and updates to a cat’s medical record can keep a cat happy and healthy well beyond ten years. Some healthy cats even live to be in their twenties.
If you’re a veterinarian offering feline dentistry services, consider an automated customer service contact management system to inform pet owners about their pet’s health. At Weave, we strive to provide the most relevant veterinary digital communication tools, including a feline dental chart.
Our services include:
- Automated missed call texts to follow up on missed calls as soon as a client can’t reach your office after hours or when lines are busy
- Automatic appointment reminders, so pets never miss an appointment
- Online payments and invoicing
- Internal office communications and networking for client scheduling, billing, and reminders
At Weave, we help vet dentists streamline communications operations with our inclusive platform. Schedule a demo or call us today at 866-308-2039 to see how we can help you stay in contact with your patients for dental charting and oral health.