Your Cat Needs Dental Care. Here’s Why.

February is both Dental Health Month and National Cat Health Month – meaning February is a big month for your cat’s teeth. In keeping with the themes of the month, we’re going to spend some time talking about the importance of dental care for your cat and why he or she needs it.

You may be wondering, don’t cats clean themselves? And you’d be right; they do! However, they use their mouth to clean themselves, and unfortunately, their mouths don’t clean themselves. But that’s okay because that’s where we – or you – come in.

Cats & Periodontal Disease

The most common disease that arises out of poor dental health in cats is periodontitis, also known as gum disease. In fact, periodontitis is so prevalent that the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVAM) has listed it as the most common disease in cats by the time they’re 3 years old.

Periodontitis is caused by bacteria in the plaque and tartar buildup (tartar is old plaque that has hardened onto the teeth). This plaque can build up below the gum line, making it hard to notice and clean.

Left untreated, periodontitis will continue to worsen and spread below the gums, making it harder to clean and harder to notice its progression. The plaque and tartar buildup can make your pet more susceptible to infection and damage to their jawbone as well as the connective tissue between the teeth and jawbone. It can also lead to tooth loss and decay as the bacteria eat away at the tooth. If that wasn’t enough to convince you to take your feline in for a visit, periodontitis is also associated with muscle changes to the kidney, liver, and heart.

Periodontal disease can be treated in several ways, depending on how progressed the disease is, with costs quickly ranging into hundreds or thousands of dollars depending on the repair necessary. Typically, this treatment consists of a deep dental cleaning but can also include dental extractions if necessary.

FORL and FGS in Cats

Another problem that occurs due to bad dental health is feline odontoclastic resorptive lesions (FORL), found in about 50% of cats. These lesions erode the base of the tooth, and as the tooth is eroded, the gum tissue will rise up and become inflamed as it attempts to fill the lesion. The exact cause of FORL is unknown, meaning preventative care is tricky, but regular brushing and vet check-ups are essential.

The best treatment option for FORLs is tooth extraction, as there is no way to reverse the damage and, without knowing the cause, no true way to prevent it.

Finally, feline gingivitis/stomatitis (FGS) is another problem that can occur from poor dental health. However, FGS is relatively uncommon, occurring in only 1 in 100 cats.

Similar to FORL and periodontal disease, tooth extraction is a common treatment option. However, some cases of FGS may also be treated through antibiotics and steroid therapy.

why your cat needs dental care

Preventative Dental Care for Your Cat

While veterinarians recommend an annual dental check-up, dental care doesn’t stop once you leave the vet’s office. The best thing you can do for your cat is to introduce a vet-recommended cat dental care routine. Just as humans must brush their teeth in between dentist visits – your cat should be doing the same!

A good dental routine consists of regular brushing. While daily is best, we know life gets hectic sometimes, so aim for regular brushings every few days if every day seems a bit out of reach. Make sure to use feline-specific products, as human toothbrushes are too rough for your cat’s teeth, and human toothpaste is unsafe for your cat to ingest.

If your feline is too frisky to allow stuff to be pushed and poked around their mouth, you can introduce dental chews to their treat rotation while you work on getting them acclimated to their toothbrush.

While conducting your regular teeth brushing, take some time to look around your cat’s mouth for any signs that could indicate a need for a dental visit prior to your annual vet checkup. Some common things to look for include bad breath, chipped, loose, or discolored teeth, and any bleeding or swelling in or around the mouth. When watching your cat’s behavior, look for any pawing at the mouth, eating soft food over hard food, or appearing hungry but unable to eat.

Taking care of your cat’s teeth is important not just for their dental health but for their overall wellness, too. And it doesn’t have to be complicated! Stay on top of regular brushing and yearly visits to help your cat be their best, healthiest, and happiest self.





Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *