Dental Care for Cats

Dental care for cats of all ages is one of the corner stones of good cat health. In the normal course of events, cats will have a longer natural lifespan than most dog breeds and thus it could be argued that good dental care for cats is even more critical than dog dental care.

Apart from the age factor, domesticated cats are perhaps historically more prone to dental problems because of their diets - or more correctly the food that they are fed by their owners. This has tended to be soft tinned food that can easily accumulate between teeth, especially at the gumline and which has very little abrasive action on the teeth during eating. This tendency has also been strengthened by the perception that dry kibble contributes to the occurence of Feline Urological Syndrome (FUS).

So, apart from addressing the basics of pet dental care what else, from a dental point of view, should a concerned cat owner look out for in order to ensure that their pet has a good quality of life.

Baby Teeth

A cat's baby teeth (deciduous teeth) are usually replaced by their permanent (adult) teeth between 3 and 7 months of age. During this process, the roots of the baby teeth are reabsorbed and the adult teeth come through taking their place. If this does not happen then the baby teeth stay where they are and the permanent teeth get pushed out of place, which can obviously lead to a range of problems including an inappropriate bite, accumulation of food between teeth etc.

The only way to correct this if it happens is to have the baby teeth removed. The adult teeth will usually then move into their correct position.

Broken Teeth

Probably not as common as in dogs, but it is certainly not that uncommon. Broken or chipped teeth can be painfull and result in a reluctance to eat. On the other hand, not all chipped or broken teeth cause the cat inconvenience and in many cases they will carry on as if nothing is wrong!

It is advisable however to have any broken teeth checked out by a vet to ascertain whether there are likely to be any long term negative effects.

Periodontal Disease.

This is THE most common and important problem in dental care for cats. By the time most cats are 2 years old they will already be getting a build up of soft plaque on the gumline. This progresses to dental tartar which is seen as a brown - yellow discolouration of the teeth starting at the gumline. In very neglected cases the tartar can encase most of the tooth!

Well before that extreme stage is reached though, the gums will become inflammed and infected and the tooth root will start coming loose from it's connective tissue.

Halitosis is one of the first indications of the prescence of periodontal disease. At this stage it is advisable to start taking an interest in what is going on inside your cat's mouth. If you ignore the early warning signs then not only do you risk permanently compromising your cat's health and quality of life, you will be faced with a far bigger vet bill for, in all likelihood, a temporary "cure".

Dental care for cats is something that needs to start early and continue throughout the animal's life - and it is your task to ensure that it happens!

Dental Cavities

Like dogs, cats rarely have cavities simply because of the composition of their diet - i.e. they don't eat too many sweets or drink too many cooldrinks! But cavities are not unknown and usually develop on the gumline.It is possible to fill cavities like in humans although it is probably more common and cost effective to remove the affected tooth.

The bottom line

Early detection followed by prompt veterinary intervention is the best, and ultimately cheapest, dental care for cats. This is best achieved by making sure that your cat has an annual dental check up and that you practice basic

pet dental care.