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Caring for a pet means that in addition to partaking in all of the delightful moments their companionship brings, you will also have to care for them through the less enjoyable moments. In this case, we are referring to dental care and everything that comes along with it. Just like humans, cats are prone to dental problems. In this article, we are going to break down some of the most common dental problems in cats. We’ll offer some tips and advice on how to prevent or manage them. We know that coordinating your cat’s dental care probably doesn’t sound like much fun, but healthy teeth make for healthy cats!
Periodontal disease is the most common dental problem among domestic cats. Although it is easily treatable at the beginning, many cats owners miss the signs as they are very subtle. As a result, cats often don’t receive treatment for periodontal disease until it has become advanced.
Periodontal disease is caused by plaque (sticky bacteria) that builds up on the surface of teeth. When left untreated it can lead to oral pain, abscess formation, osteomyelitis (bone infection), and tooth loss. In extreme cases, the bacteria can enter the bloodstream affecting other organs such as heart valves and kidneys.
Fortunately, early stages are easy to prevent and treat. A dental care regime at home is normally the best method of prevention. It is also recommended to take your cat for regular dental checkups. If the disease is in early stages a cat dental cleaning is often enough to prevent the condition from worsening.
Tooth resorption affects more than half of all cats over the age of three. It is important to note that the cause of this disease is unknown but is generally thought to be related to poor oral hygiene.
Tooth resorption is the progressive destruction of the root of a tooth, resulting in slowly deepening holes within the affected tooth. If this sounds familiar to you it’s because humans also suffer from a form tooth resorption which we refer to as “cavities.” In the case of cats, however, the cavity occurs around the base of the tooth.
So how do you spot tooth resorption in cats? Once again, this condition can be tough for the inexperienced eye to detect. However, if your cat begins to avoid the crunchy food that he used to eat this might mean that he is experiencing some sort of pain. A visit to the vet is the best way to confirm the diagnosis. Often, the most humane solution to feline tooth resorption is to extract the tooth.
Stomatitis is the inflammation or ulceration of the tissue within your cat’s mouth. Needless to say, this can be very painful for your feline friend. This condition is often linked to feline periodontal disease and is a result of an excess of bacteria in your cat’s mouth. In early stages, pain medication, antibiotics, and tooth brushing will help relieve the symptoms. However, the best results are usually achieved through the surgical removal of the affected tissue.
If you notice that your cat refuses to eat, has terrible breath, or inflammation in his mouth, he could have stomatitis. The best thing to do is to take your cat to the vet for diagnosis and a treatment plan.
Malocclusion is when a tooth in a cat’s mouth doesn’t aligned the way it’s supposed to. This may prevent a cat’s mouth from closing properly, which could be painful and lead to additional problems, including periodontal disease or sensitive gums. A severe case of malocclusion could even affect your cat’s ability to eat properly.
The exact treatment for this condition depends on how severe it is and how it’s affecting your cat. Generally speaking, treatment could involve tooth extraction or even orthodontics. Your vet will be able to determine the best course of action for your cat!
Fractured canine teeth in cats is a pretty common occurrence. This may seem like a harmless affliction but there is a pulpy tissue inside the tooth and when exposed it can become infected. If this infection is left untreated the tissue can die and infection can spread throughout the cat’s body. Just as within humans, a root canal treatment is a common way to treat this condition. An alternative option is tooth extraction.
Fractures above the gumline and tip of the tooth are often easily visible. If you spot any fractures in your cat’s teeth take him to the vet for an examination. The vet will let you what the best treatment option is for your cat.
You might be wondering, what can I do at home to take care of my cat’s dental health?
The most effective thing to do is brush your cat’s teeth regularly. Veterinarians recommend doing so at least 3 times per week. Most feline dental problems are related to plaque and brushing your cat’s teeth is the easiest and most effective way to fight it. This will also help keep your cat’s breath smelling fresh!
A regular toothbrush will do the job, but a pet toothbrush will make things easier. Pet toothbrushes come in different shapes and sizes, but finger toothbrushes work best for most cats. Remember, never use human toothpaste on cats as it contains ingredients which could be toxic to your cat. Pet toothpaste or a cat rinse is the best option, and it even comes in flavors your cat might enjoy!
Keep in mind that cats may not be particularly cooperative when it comes to dental care. Just remember to remain patient and keep trying. Your furry pal may not appreciate having his teeth brushed, but he definitely won’t enjoy a root canal! Generally speaking, it’s best to start a regular teeth cleaning regime early in your cat’s life so he can adjust to it, but it’s never too late to start!
Just like in humans, feline dental problems are easiest to prevent with regular checkups. With this in mind, be sure to schedule a dental checkup with your vet once per year. A proper diagnose will save your cat lots of unnecessary pain and could also cost you much less in the long term. And remember, a cat health insurance policy could also protect you from the exorbitant cost that may accompany a feline dental procedure. Get a quote today.
Guest Blogger: Janine DeVault