WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT YOUR CAT’S ORAL HEALTH

Pet owners know that their own dental hygiene is important, but not everyone knows that their pets need special oral care as well.

Unchecked dental disease in cats can cause heart, lung and even kidney disease. However, if you take time to care about your cat’s dental health you can prevent diseases and the accompanying dangers.

PERIODONTAL DISEASE

This infection, which takes hold in progressive stages, affects the tissue surrounding the teeth.

It all starts with plaque, which is a bacterial film that attaches to the teeth. The bacteria then dies, hardens from calcium in the saliva and forms a hard, rough substance (tartar) on top of which more plaque accumulates!

So, while plaque is still soft, it can be removed by brushing and chewing the right hard foods and safe toys. If the plaque remains and spreads it can lead to gingivitis, a state where the gums are inflamed. The gums become red, swollen and usually bleed easily. Once the plaque gets below the gumline, you’ll need to consult a professional to manage and solve the problem. If you don’t do anything about the build-up, the part around the root of the tooth can become infected. Eventually, the surrounding tooth tissue is destroyed and the socket that holds the tooth erodes. This will cause the tooth to become loose.

All of this is painful for your cat. Your responsibility is to make sure this process doesn’t even start.

WHAT ARE ORAL EXAMINATIONS?

During veterinary visits, ask for oral checkups to look for issues with baby teeth, missing/extra teeth, swelling or any other unusual developments, especially for older cats.

Your veterinarian will also be able to tell you more about plaque and tartar build-up, diseases to be aware of and oral tumors. A basic check can be done while your cat is awake while more comprehensive examinations may need anaesthetic.

Pet teeth X-rays (dental radiographs) are used for evaluation and detecting abnormalities not otherwise visible.

WHAT IS DENTAL CLEANING?

Some veterinarians recommend frequent examinations to determine if yearly dental cleanings are needed for adult cats which usually happen under general anaesthesia (with intubation).

Before Your Cat Goes for a Cleaning Under General Anaesthesia 

Your veterinarian needs to make sure your cat is healthy enough to go under general anaesthesia. Tests can include blood tests, urine tests, X-rays and electrocardiography (ECG).

What Happens During the Procedure?

  • Your cat’s vital signs need to be monitored.
  • Veterinarians remove plaque and tartar from your cat’s teeth and use a special paste for polishing.
  • Fluoride/sealants are applied to help prevent (or at least delay) future build-up and to strengthen as well as desensitise teeth.

DENTAL CARE AT HOME

Brush your cat’s teeth and take him or her for dental check-ups for a longer, happier, healthier life.

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May 2017

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