Our kitties seem so good at taking care of themselves, don’t they? Their independence is one of the many traits that makes them so endearing. But, of course, they need our care and attention to thrive. One place we may not always think to check when it comes to cat care is the mouth. After all, who wants to look in there with those enormous fangs?
However, cat dental care is crucial to prevent dental disease. By the time they reach age three, 85% of cats have some form of periodontal disease. Fortunately, this common problem is preventable.
Periodontal Disease in Cats
Periodontal disease begins when plaque and bacteria accumulate around the teeth and gums. Bacteria then work their way under the gums to cause inflammation (gingivitis). If left untreated, bacteria destroy the supporting structures around the tooth, eventually leading to tooth loss. Sadly, the bacteria can also enter your cat’s bloodstream and affect the heart, liver, and kidneys.
Periodontal disease can also cause stomatitis, another condition that’s unique to cats. Stomatitis is a severe, painful inflammation of the teeth and gums. Treatment depends on the level to which your cat is affected, but a dental cleaning and extraction of affected teeth may be recommended.
The First Step of Cat Dental Care
Fortunately, periodontal disease is preventable with a team approach. The first step of cat dental care is to schedule a dental exam with your veterinarian. The exam usually takes place during your cat’s annual checkup and is performed under anesthesia.
The entire mouth is examined, including the teeth and gums. Each tooth is evaluated, and x-rays will be taken of any problem areas. Any teeth that cannot be saved will be extracted, with your permission. The teeth will then be cleaned above and below the gum line and polished to prevent future plaque buildup.
A professional dental cleaning is recommended for all cats. The only effective way to evaluate and clean your cat’s teeth is under anesthesia. Although this is a concern for some pet owners, the risks are actually quite low. Please call us for more information about this important procedure.
Lastly, we want to address any concerns you might have about bringing your kitty in to see us. Both the physical and emotional wellbeing of your pet are important. That’s why we’re working to become a certified Fear Free Practice. You can rest assured that we take the utmost care with your cat, both before and during their visit.
Continue at Home
You’re an important factor in your cat’s dental care! Once your pet’s teeth have been cleaned, it’s time for you to continue care at home.
Daily tooth brushing — Um, excuse me? That’s right. Brushing is the absolute best way to prevent further plaque and tartar buildup. Although it’s true that beginning brushing during kittenhood is much easier, adult cats can also learn to tolerate and even enjoy this daily habit. Please contact us for tips.
Dental rinses — We may recommend a rinse for your cat’s teeth containing an enzyme that can help break down plaque.
Dental chews and diets — There are several dental diets we can recommend to help prevent plaque, tartar, and bad breath. These foods and treats work with either abrasive action or enzymatic action. Ask us which might be a good choice for your kitty.
If you have questions about your cat dental care or would like to schedule an appointment, please give us a call. We’re always happy to speak with you!