If you own a cat, you know what mysterious, funny, and independent creatures they are. They can also be extremely loving. But whatever your cat’s personality, the fact is that they are a big part of our lives. So it’s natural that we want to care for them the best we can.
But when was the last time you thought about cat dental health? Maybe…. never? If that’s the case, let us give you some reasons that we should all be paying attention to cat dental health, beginning with our own kitties.
Cats are notorious for hiding any discomfort or pain from even their closest people. This stems from an age old instinct to hide weakness in order to avoid predators in the wild. Today, your cat may have a change in behavior so subtle that you may not even notice it. But make no mistake, dental disease is uncomfortable – even painful – for your cat.
Dental Disease in Cats
By the time your cat is 4 years of age, there’s an 85% chance that she has some form of dental disease. Dental disease causes bad breath, gingivitis, and tooth loss. Even worse, bacterial infections in the mouth can travel to your cat’s internal organs, causing heart, liver, and kidney problems. So it’s imperative that we see your cat for an evaluation every year, even if they are seemingly well.
Dental disease begins with the buildup of plaque and tartar, caused by bacteria. Left undisturbed, this plaque and tartar cause bacterial infection which migrates under the gumline, causing eventual periodontal disease.
Signs of periodontal disease in cats include:
- Bad breath
- Bleeding and swollen gums
- Pawing at the mouth
- Messy eating, or chewing on one side of the mouth
- Loose teeth
- Facial swelling
Cat Dental Health
Luckily, periodontal disease in cats is preventable. Leon Valley Veterinary Hospital uses several strategies to help keep your cat’s mouth healthy, and it’s a team effort with your commitment, too.
First, we need to evaluate your cat’s oral health on a regular basis. As a part of her annual preventive care exam, we’ll examine her mouth, teeth, and gums, and provide a recommendation to you for further care.
This may include a professional dental cleaning, which is composed of the following:
- Examination of each tooth and surrounding gums
- Digital radiographs of any problem areas to evaluate the tooth supporting structures and root
- Extraction of any teeth that are beyond saving
- Cleaning and polishing the tooth surface and under the gumline to remove plaque and tartar
At home, you can help prevent periodontal disease in your cat with regular tooth brushing, a crunchy diet, and chews or rinses. We can show you how to brush your cat’s teeth (it’s not as hard as you think!) and can recommend specific chews and diets based on your cat’s needs.
There are many reasons to pay attention to our cat’s teeth and dental health, and we hope we’ve illuminated them for you. In general, a healthy mouth makes your cat happier, healthier, and can even lengthen her life. If you have any questions about cat dental health, please don’t hesitate to give us a call.