Cats are living longer now than they did 20 years ago, thanks to indoor living, better nutrition, and improved veterinary and home care. They are also considered to be fiercely independent, and we love that about them, but that may make it easier to overlook their health needs, including dental care.
By the time cats are 4 years of age, 85% of them have some form of dental disease. Not only that, but cats are susceptible to several dental problems specific to felines. So it pays to pay attention to this area, to help keep our cats comfortable and give them a healthier and happier life. Let Animal Kind Veterinary Hospital show you how to provide the best cat dental care for your feline friend.
Cat Dental Care Basics
Cats are masters at hiding signs of pain and discomfort. So it’s important that we see them in our office at least once per year (and twice for seniors), to evaluate and examine them – even if they are seemingly well. We will also want to hear about any behavioral changes, as these can and do often indicate underlying medical or dental problems.
Dental disease begins with a buildup of plaque and tartar on the teeth and around the gumline. If left undisturbed, this can cause bacteria to collect, which works its way under the gum line causing infection, swollen and bleeding gums, tooth decay, and ultimately tooth loss and even bone damage. This bacteria doesn’t stay in the mouth – some of it eventually makes its way to the bloodstream where it can damage your cat’s internal organs, including their heart, liver, and kidneys.
Periodontal disease in cats is often the cause of another condition unique to cats, called stomatitis. This is an inflammation of the mouth and gums, often resulting in painful ulcers, difficulty eating, and pawing at the mouth. Treatment varies, but often includes removing diseased teeth.
Dental Care for Cats
Fortunately, dental disease can be prevented. Our approach includes:
Regular dental exams – as a part of your cat’s preventive care exam, we’ll examine your pet’s mouth to evaluate her teeth and gums. This initial look can give us a good idea of her general oral health, but a full dental exam must be completed under general anesthesia (we need your cat’s full cooperation in order to fully evaluate each tooth).
Digital X-rays – once your pet is safely anesthetized, we can take radiographs of any problem teeth or areas that concern us. Radiographs allow us to see the underlying structures of the teeth, including the root and bone beneath.
Cleaning and polishing – as part of a professional tooth cleaning, we’ll probe each tooth and look for signs of disease and infection. If any teeth are beyond saving we’ll extract them to save your pet from further pain and discomfort. Next, we will thoroughly clean and polish each tooth and the gums, removing plaque and tartar, and smoothing tooth surfaces to prevent further buildup.
Cat Dental Care at Home
You can continue your cat’s good dental health care at home with regular tooth brushing. Before you giggle, let us assure you that it’s entirely possible to brush a cat’s teeth! We’ll give you some tips that can help keep your cat on the right path of good dental health. We may also recommend a dental diet, chews, or rinses – but there really is no substitute for brushing!
If you have any questions about your cat’s overall health or dental care, please reach out to us. We’re here to help!