Most pet owners can spot their pet’s health issues right away. One health problem that may not be so easy to find is dental disease. Cats, just like humans, can have problems with their teeth. As cats age, most do have some form of periodontal disease. Only a vet can tell for certain, but there are things that you can look for when you suspect dental problems with your cat.
Most vets would agree that dental problems can stem from other sorts of health issues and should not be ignored. Proper health check ups with the veterinarian and spot dental problems before they get out of hand, In addition, there are several steps you can take as a pet owner to help your cat have healthy teeth and gums.
To help your cat’s teeth stay in top shape, there are several things you can do. First, make sure your cat sees the vet, sick or not, once a year for a health exam. The veterinarian will be able to spot dental problems during annual exams. Your vet will look for bad breath, tooth decay, and missing teeth. All of these can point to more serious issues.
Another way to help your kitty have healthy teeth is to brush your cat’s teeth. Yes, there are special toothbrushes and paste that will help your kitty keep his or her teeth healthy. Daily brushing is recommended, but for most cats, twice a week will suffice. Most pet stores carry cat toothbrushes and soft rubber brushes that fit on your finger. If your cat is reluctant, try to do only a small portion of the mouth at first and then add more each day. If you have a kitten, start brushing his or her teeth very early to get used to the routine. There are specially made toothpastes that are available. Most cats enjoy the taste and will think of brushing as a treat.
One product that is available to help keep kitty’s mouth healthy is specially made rinses. These are good for older cats and cats that already have dental issues. These special rinses come in antiseptic gels, rinses and flavored sprays. It is not recommended to use these instead of brushing, but the rinse will help with tooth decay.
Just as dogs can benefit from chewing so can cats. There are numerous products available for cats to chew to help their teeth and gums. Some are flavored with fish or poultry, which appeals to most cats. The abrasive texture of these dental chews helps remove food, debris and plaque that can build up on your cat’s teeth. Extreme caution should be used when giving your cat a bone to chew for this purpose. Poultry bones are extremely sharp and brittle. Small pieces of bone can become lodged in your cat’s throat or digestive tract causing serious trouble. Most vets recommend that chicken and turkey bones never be given to cats for this reason.
Proper dental care in your cat is very important. Problems with the teeth can be caused or can cause other health problems including periodontal disease, feline stomatitis, Feline Odontoclastic Oral Resorption Lesions (FORL) and malocclusion. Most of these dental problems are treatable with proper medical care.
Periodontal disease is caused by build up of plaque and tartar. When tartar and plaque forms on the teeth is forces bacteria and food debris underneath the gum line and around the jawbone. This can cause inflamed gums and swelling and bleeding gums. Bad breath is another common sign of periodontal disease. This is the most common type of dental disease in cats and can be treated with a cleaning along with the use of antibiotics. Sometimes, extraction of some teeth is needed for extreme cases.
FORL is another form of dental disease often found in cats. This can be compared to a cavity in a human. Lesions on the teeth begin to form in the enamel of a tooth. When the plaque accumulates, the tissue around the affected tooth becomes inflamed. Sometimes the irritation can extend into the pulp cavity and can kill the tooth. If your cat has FORL, the vet will usually recommend extracting the affected tooth.
Feline Stomatitis is a very serious form of dental disease in cats. This is usually seen as an autoimmune disease and is most commonly found in cats that already suffer from more serious health issues. Stomatitis is caused when the body rejects and becomes allergic to the plaque on the teeth. Sometimes it can spread into the throat causing painful red lesions. When a cat has stomatitis, it will become very uncomfortable and may stop eating. You should seek the advice of your veterinarian right away.
Another type of dental disease that cats can have is called malocclusion. This is when the teeth are not aligned properly. When a human has forms of malocclusion, braces are in order. When cats suffer from severe forms of this, it can cause difficulty with eating and lead to severe weight loss. With the advances in technology, there are now specialized vets that deal with orthodontics in pets.