Why is cat dental health important? Here are proven strategies for preventing feline dental problems
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While dental diseases are preventable, they are one of the most common conditions affecting the feline population. By age four, over 50% of cats experience periodontal diseases. This is because their oral health is less important than their physical health. However, like humans, cats also need regular dental cleaning. Keep reading to learn how to improve your cat’s dental health.
Maintain Your Cat’s Oral Hygiene
- Begin regular teeth brushing to effectively eliminate plaque buildup, a primary culprit behind dental issues. While veterinarians recommend daily brushing, considering the practical challenges for cat parents, aiming at least twice a week is a manageable goal with rewarding results.
In addition, developing good dental habits from kittenhood plays a significant role in maintaining oral hygiene habits in adulthood. Introduce the practice of having your fingers in your kitten’s mouth from the early stages, making it a normalized routine as they mature. This reduces the likelihood of developing dental problems in your cats and makes brushing a stress-free task.
Perform a Visual Check
- Utilize the moments when your cat is at rest or engaged in play to gently lift their lips and inspect the inside of their mouth. A brief examination ensures their teeth appear clean and free from any signs of chipping. Healthy gums should be pink, and the gum line, where teeth and gums meet, should not be red, swollen, or bleeding. Thoroughly examine the back of their mouth for any lesions, swelling, or ulcers.
These are indicators of stomatitis, affecting approximately one in ten cats. Additionally, assess their breath. Lingering bad breath may signal an infection or an underlying health issue, requiring prompt veterinary attention. Conditions like Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) can lead to tooth infections or loss, emphasizing the importance of proactive care.
Select Kibble and Treats Thoughtfully
- While wild cats naturally manage their dental hygiene by tearing apart prey and chewing on bones, domestic cats may not have the same opportunities. Hard food or treats aid in scraping off plaque and biofilm from the teeth. However, cats must actively chew their food to get this benefit.
The size and shape of your cat’s kibble play an essential role in their dental health, observed in a study published in the Journal of Veterinary Dentistry. Dental diets and treats are specifically formulated to offer the abrasive action necessary for removing plaque buildup. Consult your veterinarian to identify the most suitable options for your cat’s dental requirements.
Prioritize Regular Oral Exams and Dental Cleanings
- Like humans, cats require routine oral checkups and professional dental cleanings to maintain optimal oral health. Your cat will be placed under general anesthesia during a dental cleaning to ensure complete comfort. The veterinarian will then eliminate plaque and tartar, polish teeth, and carefully inspect your cat’s mouth for any indications of dental issues. Most dental problems appear below the gum line. Therefore, professional cleanings and examinations are conducted while your cat is asleep.
This allows for a thorough inspection of the gums, which would be impractical if the cat is awake. Although teeth may appear healthy externally, infections or decay can lurk beneath the gumline. If any dental concerns are identified during the examination, your veterinarian may recommend X-rays to aid in diagnosis. Early detection and intervention for periodontal disease are essential to prevent tooth loss, damage to tooth roots, and jawbone erosion.
For professional teeth cleaning of your pet, book an appointment with Autumn Trails and Veterinary Center. We perform various dental services to help keep your pet’s mouth looking and feeling great. We are located in Charlottesville, VA. Appointments are conveniently available; call us at (434) 971-9800.