Your cat's teeth, like your own teeth, accumulate tartar if not cleaned regularly. Tartar can cause gum disease, tooth deterioration and infection, and tooth loss, which can cause pain and difficulty in eating and grooming. Dental disease can also spread infection to other organs of the body, causing serious and dangerous illness in your pet.
Without proper dental care 70 per cent of cats will show signs of oral disease by the age of three. With your help, your cat can have healthy teeth and gums throughout its life.
To make sure your cat has healthy teeth you should provide:
- A nutritious diet
- Dental chew treats
- Regular teeth brushing at home
- Yearly dental check-ups by a veterinarian.
Good dental health begins with the proper diet
Feeding your cat on a good quality dry food (as well as some wet food) such as Iams will help remove the bacterial plaque that can harden into tartar. Your vet may recommend the use of special dental dry foods formulated to reduce plaque and tartar, especially if your cat is prone to dental problems because of its breed or its individual genetic history.
Brushing your cat’s teeth
Brushing the teeth is an effective way to eliminate the dental plaque that can cause tooth decay and the formation of tartar and gum disease. Even older cats can be trained to accept having their teeth brushed. Start with a gentle cloth and water for short periods, and work up to proper brushing with a pet toothpaste. Ask the staff at your local vet clinic to show you how to brush your cat's teeth for the first time.
Don’t forget a yearly dental check-up
Your vet will give your cat a thorough dental examination to determine whether there are any underlying problems and tartar build-up. If your cat’s teeth do have tartar, your vet will have to remove it with professional cleaning and polishing under anaesthesia. After removing the tartar above and below the gum line, your vet will provide you with instructions for home care and follow-up.
Regular preventive dental care will keep your cat's teeth and gums healthy, and protect its long-term health.
Older cats are more prone to dental problems such as loose teeth, build-up of tartar on teeth and sore gums (gingivitis). It is advisable to check a senior cat’s teeth and gums regularly and give it an annual dental check-up at your vet. Early detection may prevent secondary problems and save puss a lot of discomfort.
However, older cats may develop health problems that prevent the ongoing feeding of a dental biscuit food. And many old cats that have not had good preventative care may have areas of tooth and gum infection that can really affect their health and their happiness.
Owners can be worried about their older cat needing an anaesthetic to remove rotten teeth – but rotten teeth can contribute to and exacerbate kidney disease, heart disease and other health problems. Sore teeth can also stop your cat from eating and make them feel miserable. The anaesthetic is less risky than leaving infected teeth and will restore your cat to a pain-free mouth. It is important to talk to your vet and sort out any dental problems for your older cat.