Maintaining good dental health is important for our cats' overall well-being. Get tips from our vets at Mahopac on caring for your cat's teeth and identifying potential issues.
Dental Health for Cats
Just like humans, cats require regular dental care from their veterinarian. However, many cat owners do not bring their pets in for dental care as often as recommended, which can lead to common health issues such as plaque buildup, dental disease, and periodontal disease. Since cats are skilled at hiding their pain, it can be challenging to detect if they are experiencing discomfort due to an oral health problem without causing them to reveal their discomfort.
For this reason, cat owners should clean their kitty's teeth on a regular basis, book regular dental exams and cleanings, and keep a close watch on their furry companion's oral health. This way, you'll be more likely to identify whether oral health issues are causing problems early and potentially help your cat avoid pain and expensive treatment.
How to Clean Your Cat's Teeth
Maintaining the cleanliness and health of your cat's teeth and gums is an ongoing responsibility. However, you can establish a daily oral hygiene routine for your furry friend at an early age. This can help them get used to the process of having their teeth cleaned and make the entire at-home hygiene routine stress-free in the long run.
To begin, wait until your cat is calm and relaxed, and then follow these steps:
- Lift your cat's lips gently before using your finger to massage their teeth and gums for a few seconds.
- Don't place too many expectations on your cat at first. You may only end up reaching a couple of teeth the first few times you attempt to brush. That's okay; this is about building trust in your cat to help prevent them from becoming agitated.
- Stay calm, and make sure to provide lots of praise and a delicious kitty treat after your teeth-and-gum massage session. You're aiming to build your cat's tolerance for the experience. Gradually increase the length of time you spend on this task every day.
- Once your cat has become used to their daily gum massage, you'll be able to gradually introduce a soft-bristled toothbrush (get one at your vet's or pet store) and some special cat toothpaste. These toothpastes can be found in a range of great flavors cats love, such as chicken or beef.
- Begin by introducing the toothbrush as gradually as you did the teeth-and-gum massage; your cat might start with licking just a small dab of toothpaste from your finger. Place the brush bristles at a 45-degree angle where the teeth and gum meet, then use a gentle oval pattern to reach 3 to 4 teeth at a time while you move the bristles around the teeth.
- Complete 10 short oval motions before shifting the toothbrush to a new location in the mouth. Focus on the outside upper teeth since they do the most chewing.
How to Tell If Your Cat Has a Dental Health Problem
If you suspect that your cat has dental health issues, there are some common symptoms you should look out for. If you notice any of these symptoms, scheduling a visit with your vet is important.
- Loose or broken teeth
- Abnormal chewing, drooling, or dropping food from the mouth
- Pain or swelling in or around the mouth
- Extra teeth or retained baby teeth
- Reduced appetite or refusal to eat
- Teeth with discoloration or tartar buildup
- Bleeding from the mouth
- Foul odor coming from the mouth
Maintaining Your Cat's Hygiene Routine
To combat plaque on your cat's teeth, using oral rinses and gels in addition to brushing can be helpful. The most effective antiseptic for preventing plaque buildup is Chlorhexidine. To apply the rinse, simply squirt a small amount inside the cheek on each side of the mouth. The gel should be applied directly to the teeth using either a brush or your finger.
However, some cats may object to the taste of these products, even if they are flavored. If your cat has severe plaque problems, a special approved dental diet may be recommended by your vet. This diet may contain chemicals to bind and facilitate the breakdown of plaque or tartar. While dental chew treats can supplement tooth brushing, they should not be used to replace your cat's daily oral hygiene routine.
Annual Dental Checkups for Cats
To make sure that your cat's mouth remains pain-free and healthy, our veterinarians recommend making annual dental care visits to your vet's office a part of their preventative healthcare routine. Your Mahopac veterinarian will evaluate your pet's oral health on top of their overall physical health and let you know if any professional dental cleaning or surgery is required to restore your cat's good health.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding people or pets. If you are concerned about your pet's health, contact your veterinarian right away for diagnosis and treatment.