Many people overlook a major aspect of their pet cat’s health: their teeth. The level of importance for cat dental hygiene is the same as it should be for humans, and without the proper care, it can lead to many problems. There is actually a college that specializes in animal dental work, since a pet’s poor teeth can become a very painful nuisance in the later years of their life. Taking care of a cat’s teeth is largely crucial during their formative years. For example, periodontal disease is quite common for cats that have built up tartar in their teeth. This disease, if untreated, can cause the structure that holds the teeth in place to be destroyed. If this happens your pet cat could potentially lose all of it’s teeth. Luckily, there are many simple ways to prevent both disease and injury to your cat’s teeth. There are many products that exist to help remove tartar and strengthen gums, but some things just require some observation and precautionary measures. Cat’s can get bleeding gums just like humans can, and since dental work for pets is both tedious and sometimes expensive, the best plan is to take care of their teeth from the very beginning.
Although periodontal disease is the most common complication for cat’s with large plaque and tartar build-up in their mouths, there are also some that are more severe in their scope. Small fractures in the canine teeth of cats can lead to infection, sometimes ending with the death of the pulp tissue (the living tissue inside of teeth) in an issue known as endodontic disease. Cats might also get something similar to the cavities that humans can suffer from, and though they aren’t technically caused by bacteria, they do cause erosion between the tooth and gum. Unfortunately, the only thing that veterinarians can do if a case has been left unattended for too long is the extraction of the teeth. Dental disease in cats can even lead to the damage of internal organs, with the kidneys being the most susceptible. The bacteria in dental tartar can be released into the bloodstream and shorten the cat’s life, especially since the disease is most common in older cats who go through some kidney-related changes as they age. If the pain in a cat’s tooth is too great, then they might stop eating and drinking as a result. Noticing any signs of dental deterioration, ranging from abscesses to mild gingivitis, before they grow too severe is key to keeping your cat’s mouth healthy.
Being able to recognize the symptoms of dental disease is also a useful tool, since veterinary check-ups might not happen frequently enough to prevent diseases from gaining hold. Some symptoms can include bad breath, drooling, swollen gums, bleeding from the mouth, and reduced appetite. Some cats also chew on one side of their mouth to avoid certain teeth, and in some instances can lose entire teeth without owners ever noticing. The major problem arises with the remarkable ability of cats to hide pain, and they rarely if ever paw at their face or show obvious outward signs of pain. However, a keen eye on the owner’s part, and even some simple inspections every now and then can prevent potentially irreversible damage in the future. A veterinary exam is necessary on an annual basis, though for cats seven and older, the exams should take place twice a year. For dental procedures, pets often require general anesthesia, since they don’t normally sit still and let their teeth be cleaned like humans do. There are some risks involved with such use of anesthesia, but those risks can be minimized through proper check-ups and blood work. Besides, the risks of the anesthesia are far fewer than leaving your cat’s dental hygiene untreated.
Like in humans, brushing your pet cat’s teeth is the most effective way to prevent dental disease. The ideal situation is to get your cat familiar with this process when it’s still a kitten, but even older cats can be trained to accept some teeth brushing. Some cats may take a little more training than others, but it’s a simple method of extending the life of your cat, and for preventing the pain of dental disease. Some sources claim that dry food assists in cleaning a pet’s teeth, however, most cats don’t even chew their food long enough for the scraping to occur. Even the larger pieces that are sometimes billed by pet food manufacturers as a diet suited for dental purposes can be swallowed whole by hungry cats. Dry food can also leave some residual carbohydrates that can cause more growth in plaque. So a raw diet, or grain-free canned one is the best option. With these kinds of moist foods, your cat’s teeth may even be cleaned because the water in them can wash away the tartar and prevent disease. Cooked bones are not recommended since they can splinter and become lodged in the intestine of your cat.
Be wary of products like water additives and dental sprays that claim to eliminate plaque, since many do not provide the stated benefits. Some can help, but others might just make the teeth appear whiter, and in doing so prevent the owner from seeing the signs of more rampant dental disease. Some can even harm your cat, so use caution. On a similar note, dental treats are usually just dry food in disguise, and although some can help your cat’s breath smell better, they don’t add any extra protection. Some good chew toys can also facilitate a cat’s healthy teeth. Rope or rubber toys are best, since anything overly hard can cause fractures in the teeth. When brushing your cats teeth you shouldn’t use human toothpaste, since cats can’t spit it out, so veterinarian toothpastes that don’t have many fluorides in it are best. A soft bristled toothbrush works best inside a cat’s mouth. Proper cat dental hygiene is a must for pet owners, and it’s done with some simple choices. These simple choices are preventative in the most crucial ways, and they will certainly put your cat on the right road to a happy and healthy life.