Dental Disease one of the most frequent condition seen by veterinarians. It is estimated that approximately two-thirds of cats (roughly 68%) over three years of age have some degree of dental disease. The most common problems are gingivitis, periodontal disease and odontoclastic-resorptive lesions.
What are the signs of Dental Disease in cats?
There are a number of signs that can alert you that your cat is suffering from a tooth ache. If your cat is known to clear out his/her food bowl and suddenly they go to the food bowl, look at, but don’t eat, there’s a good chance there is something major bothering your cat. Your cat may chew with one side of their mouth, drooling, or have a unpleasant odor to their breath.
Tartar is easily identified by its tan or brown color and it normally starts at the gum edge, especially on the back teeth. In severe cases it may cover the entire tooth. Accumulation of tartar and bacteria on the surfaces of the teeth can lead to infection and gingivitis (inflammation of the gum tissue). If the disease is caught at an early stage and a thorough veterinary dental scaling and polishing is performed, most of the teeth and gums will have a full recovery. If gingivitis is left untreated, then irreversible peridontal disease will occur. During this process the bone and liagments that support the tooth are destroyed, leading to excessive tooth mobility and eventual tooth loss. Infection around the pocket causes the formation of pus that may spread deep into the tooth pocket creating an abscess, or even more severe problems including foul mouth odor. Once periodontal disease starts, the degenerative changes cannot be reversed. These changes make it easier for more plaque and tartar to collect, resulting in further disease.
What are Odontoclastic resorptive lesions?
Odontoclastic resorptive lesions result from a progressive destruction of the enamel resulting in slowly deepening “holes” in affected teeth. Once the sensitive parts of the tooth are exposed, these lesions are intensely painful, and the only treatment is to extract the tooth. The cause of this disease is unknown; however, poor oral hygiene is suspected to play a role in the disease causing process.
If your cat shows signs of dental problems the best thing you can do for your cat is have your cat seen by a veterinarian to access what is truly going on inside your cats mouth. The veterinarian will be able to tell if your kitty needs a dental cleaning done under general anesthesia.
The rate of tartar accumulation is very variable between individual cats, and in some cases this may need a professional cleaning on a regular basis (every 6-12 months).
How can you help prevent dental disease in my cat?
The primary aim in preventing dental disease is to keep the mouth as hygienic as possible, and to reduce the rate at which tartar builds up on the teeth.
You can speak to your veterinarian about adding in a dental diet to help prevent against tartar build up on the teeth.
The most effective way of reducing plaque and tartar is to brush your cats teeth. A number of pet toothpastes and brushes are available from your veterinarian that are specially designed for a cat’s mouth. With gentleness, patience and perseverance it is possible to clean some cats teeth. In addition, or as an alternative to brushing if this cannot be achieved, a range of antibacterial mouthwashes and gels can be applied to the teeth and mouth to reduce the number of bacteria present. Never use human toothpaste or mouthwash on your cats, these are not designed to be regularly swallowed and could harm your cat.
If your cat has a build up of tartar on their teeth the best thing you can do for your kitty is to have your cat’s veterinarian have their mouth evaluated for dental disease. If the veterinarian recommends a dental getting your cats teeth cleaned is the best way to prevent tooth loss and discomfort for your cat.