You may be surprised, but cats actually need their teeth cleaning… daily! Dental hygiene is really important for your cat, to stop diseases that can lead to a variety of health problems. Not only does it stop diseases, your cat will have fresh breath and strong teeth as a result of it. You can clean your cat’s teeth at home, but what else can you do to help your cat’s teeth? Do you need to visit a cat dentist? And what happens if you don’t take care of your feline friend’s dental hygiene? We will discuss all these questions in this article, so you can get clued up on your cat’s oral hygiene and how you can take care of them better. Pet parents always want the best for their fur babies, so it’s important to understand all elements of their health and what you need to do to keep them healthy. It’s quite easy to take care of your cat’s teeth, you just need to find out how to do it and get into a regular routine. Read on to find out more about cat dental hygiene.
The Importance of Dental Cleaning for Your Cat
Cleaning your cat’s teeth is very important. You may not realize it, but just like us, cat’s can suffer from tooth decay or gum disease if their oral health is not kept up to scratch. Tooth decay and gum disease can lead to more serious issues in your feline friend, like diseases of the heart or kidneys. You may not realize your cat is suffering until this issue has become severe, meaning regular checkups and a good dental cleaning routine is just as important as getting their shots or a general health check. Poor oral hygiene can also lead to bad breath and bleeding gums. Your veterinarian may need to give your kitty-cat a deep dental clean, or even extract teeth if necessary, which isn’t what you want for your four-legged friend. Because so many pet parents aren’t aware their cat needs a dental cleaning, as we usually think of this as a part of their grooming (which cats tend to do pretty well themselves), a large percentage of felines have some sort of dental disease when they reach adulthood. This is usually tartar issues or build-up of plaque. So, what exactly are plaque and tartar? Plaque is a layer of bacteria that develop on the surface of the teeth. Plaque can easily be tackled by cleaning teeth regularly, but if left to build up it can cause problems. Plaque, if left to develop for long periods of time, can then harden or calcify, which is known as tartar. This is quite visible on the teeth, as it has a discolored or yellow look. It is difficult to remove and requires professional help to do this, as trying to brush this off does not work (it’s almost like trying to use a toothbrush to remove a layer of concrete from your teeth!).
Another issue your cat can experience due to poor dental hygiene is gingivitis (a disease of the gums) which is caused by plaque. This is when the gum becomes inflamed, and it can become quite severe. Mild gingivitis is easily treated at home and can be avoided by brushing your cat’s teeth. In more severe cases, when plaque has built up a lot and turned to tartar, your feline friend can experience a lot of pain and their gums may start to bleed. It may cause difficulty eating and they will generally be uncomfortable and may even start drooling. This cannot be solved by brushing your cat’s teeth, so you will need to visit your vet for a scale and polish. Not looking after your cat’s teeth can lead to periodontal disease, which affects many cats by the time they’re four years old. It can affect your cat’s liver, kidney, and bladder function and can even be fatal. This is in severe cases and you can easily avoid this by giving your cat a good dental cleaning routine.
What Happens if My Cat Gets Periodontal Disease?
Periodontal comes from a Greek word that means ‘around the tooth’. As we briefly explained, Periodontal disease is potentially fatal and affects your cat’s gums. If the tissue becomes infected, it can lead to inflammation and loss of structure of the teeth. If this disease gets particularly bad, the effects are irreversible, which is why prevention is so important.
Like gingivitis, Periodontal disease develops from plaque that has hardened on the teeth and turned to Tar Tar. It can make the gums recede and inflamed, which in turn causes more bacteria to affect the area, which is very painful. It is the more advanced stage of gingivitis and can lead to tooth loss and can act as a portal that allows infection to spread to your cat’s main organs. To tackle Periodontal disease, your veterinarian will determine the best course of action to help your cat, which may include a dental care plan and potentially providing mediation to help alleviate the pain. A change in diet may be required to allow the inflamed areas to heal, so soft foods should only be provided. If you are worried your cat may be suffering from inflamed gums, ask your vet and try and get a good dental cleaning regime in place. If the gums are sensitive, be gentle and make sure brushing isn’t causing more problems.
Interesting Facts about Cat Teeth
Cats have 26 teeth when they are kittens and have 30 by the time they reach adulthood. They need their teeth to properly chew their food and for playing. Their teeth are designed to eat meat and they can only move their jaw up and down, meaning other foods like a salad would be tricky for them to chew (not that your cat would ever choose a salad over their cat food!). They use their sharp molars to rip up food, and their tiny front teeth for grooming purposes. These cute little teeth are perfect for grooming matted fur or removing fleas (which hopefully they don’t have if treated correctly). If their teeth become unhealthy or weak, it can certainly impact this, as well as a multitude of other potential problems, some that can be life-threatening. Just like us, cat’s can suffer from tooth erosion and cavities. They may not show the pain like we do when we have a cavity, so you may not know when they have one. This is why it’s so important to get checkups for your cat’s teeth. This is will stop any unnecessary suffering and will allow you to catch any problems before they develop further.
How Do I Clean My Cat’s Teeth?
If you don’t already, it’s good to get into the routine of cleaning your cat’s teeth. But how do you do it? It might not seem like the easiest task, especially if you are introducing this to an adult cat, but don’t worry, with a bit of time you will be able to make this part of your feline friends grooming routine. It’s important to always remain relaxed and calm while trying to introduce the brush. Forcing it will just make them want to escape and it will be a difficult process for both of you. In order to brush your cat’s teeth, you will need a toothbrush that has been designed specifically for cats and cat-friendly toothpaste. You can find both these items in your pet store or by searching online. When you start, don’t introduce the toothbrush straight away. Try and gently touch their gums to get them used to that feeling and having you near their mouth in this way. They might dislike it at first, but remember to keep calm and try this a few times before introducing the toothbrush. You can get flavored cat toothpaste, which will make the whole thing a little more appealing to your feline friend. Again, before introducing the toothbrush, let them try the toothpaste by offering some from your hand. They can get used to the flavor and texture this way. Once you have tried this over a few days, you can try the toothbrush. Place a small amount of toothpaste on the brush and sit down comfortably with your cat. Try not to crouch over them or assume any sort of threatening stance, as this can make them scared. Give them a cuddle and pet them to reassure them that getting their teeth cleaned is a good experience. You can start one or twice a week to get your cat used to it slowly. Lightly brush your cat’s teeth and gently move it around. Don’t brush for too long, to begin with, just as much as your cat will allow. Letting your cat smell and play with the brush will help them get used to it too, so if they are trying to get away, let them see it and investigate what it is. It is more than likely that your cat will try and get away when you brush their teeth, so try and keep them calm and relaxed.
How Often Does My Cat Need Dental Cleaning?
Ideally, you should clean your cat’s teeth daily. This will help to keep them healthy and tackle pesky plaque and other dental hygiene issues. It is also important to get your cat’s teeth checked and cleaned by your veterinarian. This can be included as part of your cat’s health checkup, or if you're worried that their dental hygiene isn’t good, it’s always worth booking an appointment to get them looked at as soon as you can. Generally, a dental clean of your cat’s teeth by your veterinarian should be done once a year, but it depends on your cat and what their unique requirements are. So what exactly happens in a dental cleaning? There are a couple of routes your veterinarian may go down. They may perform a check by putting your cat under anesthetic, which allows your veterinarian to perform a full dental cleaning, including under the gum line and extractions if needed. If your feline friend doesn’t need this, they may do a clean while your fur baby is awake, where your veterinarian removes tartar and polishes their teeth in a safe manner. Your vet can help you decide if your pet is eligible for a non-anesthetic dental cleaning. Have a consultation with your vet to find out how often your cat needs a dental cleaning. If you clean your cat's teeth, this may be something that doesn’t need doing, but it is always worth checking. The frequency of dental cleanings is breed and age-specific. Ask your veterinarian about the right time to clean your pet’s teeth. You can schedule an appointment using our online form quickly and easily, and we will come to your home to carry out the dental examination.
To summarize, cat’s dental health is just as important as any other part of their health, like getting their shots or giving them flea medicine. Not looking after your cat’s dental health can lead to serious and life-threatening illnesses, such as periodontal disease. The buildup of plaque can lead to tartar and cause issues such as gingivitis, which can be very uncomfortable for your feline friend. To avoid health complications created by poor dental hygiene, try and get into a routine of cleaning your cat’s teeth. Ideally, this should be done daily, if not every week to keep on top of their dental health. It is also a good idea to visit your vet for a dental cleaning when possible. Your vet can examine your cat’s teeth and determine what level of teeth cleaning they require and how often. This depends on their age, breed and current dental health. Some cats may not require this much, if ever, but it is always worth checking it over with your veterinarian. A healthy set of teeth is just one part of your cat’s overall health, and looking after them will lead to a happy and healthy feline friend. If you want to schedule a dental cleaning for your cat, visit FetchMyVet.com.