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
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
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
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.
Cat Article courtesy of I-Love-Cats.com
Please note: The
information provided here is meant to supplement that provided by your
Nothing can replace a complete history and physical examination
performed by your veterinarian.