Cat dental issues are among the most common medical concerns in cats. By age 3, many felines are already developing tartar and plaque. If unattended, dental issues can result in loose and missing teeth, oral pain, difficulty eating, and bad breath. But with regular dental checkups and daily or weekly maintenance, it is possible to avoid future problems.
Since cats are so good at hiding their pain, sometimes the only indication of problems with the teeth and mouth is their sudden refusal to eat. If this happens, take Kitty to the vet pronto for a thorough dental exam. A veterinary emergency will involve dental Xrays and a thorough cleaning, tooth extraction if needed, and antibiotics and perhaps hospitalization until Kitty can resume eating regularly.
Obviously, you do not want to end up at the vet in an emergency situation, so be aware of the following less severe indications that something could be wrong. They include:
- Chewing on one side of the mouth, since the other side is where the pain is.
- Inability to eat dry kibble and preference for only wet food since that is softer.
- Pawing at the affected area, drooling, or bad breath.
Learn the Signs: While you can become familiar with the signs that indicate something could be wrong, the simplest way to avoid dealing with a potential problem is to learn how to prevent tartar from building up in your cat’s mouth.
One of the easiest ways to prevent tartar build up is to give Kitty a mixed diet consisting of not only wet but dry food. In the wild, cats in the past relied on a mixture of both so if you provide only canned soft food, the result is plaque. Over time, plaque calcifies and becomes tartar. From here, gingivitis can develop leading to tooth loss and gum problems. So, make sure she is getting ample dry food which will not only scrape but clean her teeth. There are many varieties of cat dental treats which will also do the job. Many of these have been tested and are proven to reduce plaque and tartar build-up.
Learn to Brush: Brushing their teeth is a great way to keep on top of feline plaque. This process need not be difficult as long as your cat is tolerant of you touching them around the mouth. The best way to do this is to get them used to it from an early age, or in small steps, the same way you will get them used to the toothbrush. My feline actually enjoys the feel of the soft toothbrush rubbing against her teeth, and that is not uncommon!
Since cats are so big on routines, make tooth brushing a regular part of her week. If you can’t get her to sit still every day, try for at least 3 times a week at the same time and in the same place. You can buy beef or chicken flavored toothpaste, and you need not brush longer than a couple of minutes, or for as long as she will tolerate it.
While acclimating your cat to having her teeth brushed, remember to take your time and slowly work up from gently touching her mouth area to running the tooth brush along her teeth and gums. Next, proceed in a circular motion on the back and front of her teeth. You can often find miniature tooth brushes and special toothpaste available from your vet—or get their recommendation as to where to buy the brushes and the paste.
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