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Dental Health for Cats: What You Need to Know

Close up of cats mouth showing front teeth and peach nose

Dental Health issues in cats might be more common than you think! The majority of felines miss out on daily teeth brushing, making dental disease prevalent among them. A noticeable indicator of dental problems in cats is bad breath. Research reveals that a whopping 80% of cats over 3 years old suffer from dental issues, yet many pet parents remain oblivious. This blog has everything you need to know about Dental Health for Cats and for all things related to feline dental health. Plus, we’ll shed light on the significance of pet insurance coverage like our comprehensive 360 care, which includes protection against dental illnesses. This coverage incorporates dental diseases, gingivitis, and periodontal ailments. Remember, 360 care covers dental scaling and cleaning when treating a covered dental illness—not for cosmetic procedures or routine cleanings. Cat dental treats are a great way to bring routine dental care into your everyday routine!

Understanding Dental Disease

dental disease in cats, ginger and white cat with plaque on teeth

Dental woes mainly stem from the immune system’s response to plaque accumulation on tooth surfaces. Plaque, a mix of saliva, food particles, and bacteria, adheres to teeth and requires brushing or chewing for removal. Left unattended, plaque hardens into calculus (tartar), and it’s the bacteria within it that sparks the immune reaction. As plaque builds up, gum inflammation (gingivitis) sets in, marked by easily bleeding red gums. Neglected plaque can damage deeper supporting tissues like bone and ligaments, potentially leading to tooth loss.

However, dental problems extend beyond teeth to impact other organs. Bacterial toxins and inflammatory substances from dental disease enter the bloodstream and may harm the heart, kidneys, and liver.

Also, remember that dental issues cause discomfort, although cats may not openly exhibit it. It’s not uncommon for pet parents to observe improved behavior and spirits in their cats post-dental cleaning under anesthesia. After the procedure, cats might display heightened energy levels, increased playfulness, and greater food acceptance.

What are the signs of dental disease in cats?

The common signs of dental disease include:

  • Bad breath
  • Discoloured teeth
  • Red and inflamed gums
  • Some cats may salivate more and not chew their food properly or only chew on one side of their mouth

Taking Action Against Dental Disease

To address dental concerns, a vet examination is the initial step to determine if your cat requires a dental scale and polish under anesthesia. Gingivitis is reversible if treated promptly, and it’s the gateway to managing periodontal disease. To treat gingivitis, a dental scale and polish performed by a vet under anaesthesia is necessary. This procedure targets plaque and calculus removal, polishing, and potential dental x-rays for thorough assessment.

How do I prevent dental disease for my cat?

Daily toothbrushing is the gold standard for feline dental care, just as it is for humans. Starting this routine early yields better results, but even adult cats can adapt to it. Various toothbrushes and flavored pet toothpastes cater to different preferences. While toothbrushing is ideal, other homecare options like dental treats, additives, gels, rinses, powders, and dental kibble can complement your efforts.

Common Dental Health issues in Cats

During my clinical practice, one of the prevalent dental issues I encountered in cats was tooth resorption, also known by various names. This concern affects a substantial portion of feline companions, with up to 70% experiencing tooth resorption at some point in their lives. To put it simply, tooth resorption involves the cat’s body breaking down and absorbing the structures that make up the tooth. This process is painful for the cat, and unfortunately, the exact causes and prevention methods remain unknown. As of now, the sole available treatment is the extraction of the affected tooth or teeth.

In addition to tooth resorption, cats commonly face other dental problems, including fractured teeth and inflammatory conditions. One such condition is juvenile gingivitis, which occurs as kittens transition from baby teeth to adult teeth. During this period, noticeable signs include pronounced gingivitis (red, easily bleeding gums) that can become quite swollen.

Another formidable oral ailment in cats is feline chronic gingivostomatitis. This condition is excruciatingly painful and notoriously challenging to manage and treat. Though the exact cause eludes us, it triggers an intense immune response in the cat, resulting in severe inflammation and lesions within the mouth. Treatment options may involve complete mouth extractions or at least extracting all teeth except the canines and incisors located at the front of the mouth. Managing this condition requires pain relief, antibiotics, and comprehensive supportive care.