Many cat owners might not be familiar with feline dental care, but it’s an important topic. Cats are prone to a variety of dental issues, and some diseases can have scary repercussions such as infection, pain, and loss of teeth. Learning about these diseases — and learning how to prevent these diseases — is a must for every cat owner. Here are a few things you need to know about cat dental care so you can keep your cat’s mouth and teeth healthy and pain-free.
There are several dental health conditions that are common in all types of cats. Familiarizing yourself with these diseases could help you recognize the symptoms in your cat should they arise.
This the number one medical condition diagnosed in cats. Periodontal disease is a gum disease that can result in loss of teeth; it starts out with plaque and tartar building up on a tooth and eventually spreads to below the gumline. Professional cleaning is the best course of treatment.
Fractured teeth are fairly common in cats. If the tooth is fractured above the gumline, it is visible to the naked eye, but some fractures also continue down below the gumline. Fractured teeth also might look to be a gray color. The canine teeth and premolars are generally the most prone to fractures. It’s essential to alert your vet and resolve fractures as soon as possible; fractures can turn into abscesses, lead to infection, or cause facial swelling if left untreated.
Stomatitis occurs when the tissues around the oral cavity become inflamed. The signs if stomatitis include an inflamed mouth, a reduced appetite (stomatitis is an extremely painful disease), and an aversion to having teeth examined. Breeds such as Himalayans and Persians are somewhat predisposed to stomatitis, but all breeds can come down with the condition. Treatment for stomatitis ranges from toothbrushing to surgery depending on the severity of the case.
Cats can have cancer in the jawbone, tongue, gums, or lips. For a successful treatment process and full recovery, it’s important to catch this early. Your cat might have oral cancer if you notice bad breath, weight loss, drooling, tooth loss, masses in his mouth, or a swollen face.
You probably visit your dentist every six months, but did you know that regular oral checkups are important for your cat, too? According to The Drake Center, many cats have gingivitis (inflammation of the gums) or periodontal disease by age four — and you might not know it, because cats won’t normally show it if their mouth is in pain. Regular vet checkups (once a year) with a focus on evaluating your cat’s oral health are important to ward off any potential problems.
If your cat has any of the following issues, a checkup is in order sooner rather than later:
Bleeding from the mouth
Teeth that are broken or loose
Drooling, abnormal chewing, or food dropping from the mouth
A reduced appetite or an outright refusal to eat
Swelling around the mouth
Discolored teeth, or teeth covered with tartar
Begin brushing your cat’s teeth as early as possible (ideally, as a kitten) and do it as often as possible. Not all cats like this process, so get them used to it quickly. Brush your cat’s teeth with a cat toothbrush or a child’s toothbrush — something with soft bristles — and pet toothpaste (some pet toothpastes are flavored to taste like poultry). Never use baking soda, salt, or human toothpaste, as these could hurt your cat if swallowed.
To correctly brush your cat’s teeth, lift their lips and gently brush the outside surfaces of their teeth and gums. Make a point to brush the canines and back upper molars, because those quickly build up tartar.
Brushing your cat’s teeth also provides the perfect opportunity for you to check for any warning signs of disease.
If you’re still concerned about your cat’s dental health, consider searching for a cat food that’s specifically geared towards oral health. This might be a food that has breath freshening properties, is packed with vitamins and minerals to keep teeth strong, or focuses on reducing tartar buildup. Your vet can recommend a good brand of food.
Pets are like family. We know how difficult it can be when a member of the family becomes sick or injured. Consider investing in a cat insurance plan
Nothing in this article should be construed as financial, legal or veterinary advice. Please consult your own advisors for questions relating to your and your pet’s specific circumstances.