Feline Dental Health
Your cat's dental health is closely linked to their general health and well-being. Because your cat uses their teeth, gums, and mouth to eat and vocalize, they can experience pain when their oral structures are damaged or diseased. This leads to being unable to eat and communicate normally.
In addition, the bacteria and infections that cause many oral health issues in cats won't stay confined to your feline friend's mouth. Left untreated, these bacteria start to circulate throughout your pet's entire body, causing damage to major organs such as the heart, liver, and kidneys. This can lead to more serious, long-term internal health issues that can affect your cat's lifespan and longevity.
How to Tell if Your Cat Has Dental Health Problems
Cats are adept at hiding their pain, which can make it difficult to tell if your kitty is suffering from a dental health problem without revealing their discomfort. This is why it's important to monitor your cat's health and keep a close eye on changes in behavior or signs that they might have an issue that requires treatment.
While specific symptoms will vary depending on which dental health issue your cat may be suffering from, there is a chance your cat has a dental disease if you notice any of the symptoms or behaviors listed below.
Common signs of dental disease in cats can include:
- Bad Breath (halitosis) Bleeding, swollen, or noticeably red gums
- Missing or loose teeth
- Visible tartar
- Difficulty with or slow eating
- Excessive drooling
- Weight loss
- Bad breath (halitosis)
- Pawing at their teeth or mouth
If you notice any of these signs of dental disease in your cat, schedule a dental cleaning and exam with your vet in Queens as soon as possible. The sooner your cat's dental health issue is diagnosed and treated, the better chance of positive outcomes for your cat's long-term health.
How to Clean Your Cat's Teeth
To help keep your cat's teeth and gums healthy throughout their life, our vets at Queens Animal Hospital recommend maintaining a daily at-home oral hygiene routine for your feline companion, in addition to annual dental cleanings and exams.
Establishing a daily oral hygiene routine for your cat while they are still a kitten can help make the job of cleaning your cat's teeth at home as easy and stress-free as possible. This way, your cat will get used to having their mouth touched and teeth brushed from a young age.
Start by waiting until your cat is calm, then follow these steps to build a brushing routine that can become an easy, stress-free part of your feline friend's daily routine:
- Gently lift your cat's lips, and use a finger to massage their teeth and gums for just a few seconds.
- Don't expect too much from your cat at first. You may only be able to reach a couple of teeth the first few times you try this process - that's okay. Begin with the intention of building trust in your cat to help prevent them from becoming agitated.
- Remain calm and make sure to offer lots of praise and a yummy treat after giving your cat their teeth and gum massage. This will help build your cat's tolerance to the experience. You should be able to gradually increase the length of time you spend on the task each day.
- Once your kitty is used to their daily gum massage, you'll be able to gradually introduce a soft-bristled toothbrush you can pick up at a pet supply store or veterinary clinic and some special cat toothpaste. Choose from a range of flavors that cats love, such as chicken or beef.
- Start by using the toothbrush as gradually as you did the teeth and gum massage. Let your cat lick a small dab of toothpaste from your finger. Place the toothbrush bristles at a 45-degree angle where the teeth and gum meet, and use a gentle oval pattern to reach three or four teeth at a time, moving the bristles around the teeth.
- Complete 10 short oval motions before moving the toothbrush to a new location in your cat's mouth. focus on the outside upper teeth since they do the most chewing.
Professional Dental Care for Cats at Queens Animal Hospital
Dental cleanings and exams are an essential pillar in your cat's dental care routine. 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 Queens 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 pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.