My 9 year-old cat recently had both of her upper canine teeth extracted. The teeth had become loose and were migrating out of the sockets. My veterinarian told me she had a condition called alveolar osteitis, and that this is fairly common in cats. Her condition was advanced, which is why her teeth were loose. Do all cats with alveolar osteitis need to have their teeth extracted?
Alveolar osteitis is a relatively common condition that is the result of chronic periodontal disease in cats. It can occur around the upper or the lower canine teeth. The gum tissue adjacent to the tooth becomes red and swollen. The bone of the tooth socket also becomes inflamed, and abnormal new bone is formed. The new bone literally pushes the tooth out of the socket.
If this disorder is detected early, it may be possible to perform a thorough periodontal therapy, and even to remove some of the exuberant bone that has formed under the gum. The gum is then replaced and sutured into place to hasten healing. Unfortunately, many of these cats have advanced periodontal disease and the teeth appear longer than normal due to their migration out of the tooth socket.
What is the outlook for cats with alveolar osteitis?
Once the affected teeth are extracted and the gum tissue is repaired and allowed to heal, these cats do exceptionally well. They enjoy a normal quality of life and life expectancy.