Eight out of ten cats over the age of three will experience issues with their teeth and guns, often caused by the build up of bacteria, plaque and other debris from their food. Cat dental issues and diseases are however preventable with a good oral hygiene routine.
In the wild, cats would normally keep their teeth clean by either chewing on grass or bones, however our domestic companions don’t often have access to these things. As a result, eight out of ten cats over the age of three will experience issues with their teeth and guns, often caused by the build up of bacteria, plaque and other debris from their food. Over time, these germs on their teeth can harden and form into tarter, which can cause irritation to their gums and issues such as gingivitis and tooth loss. Pain and irritation on the gums can make it difficult for your cat to eat and any bacteria from such infections has the potential to end up in their bloodstream and affect organs such as their kidneys. These oral issues often develop slowly over time, however they are all preventable with a good oral hygiene routine.
Checking Your Cat’s Mouth
Establishing a dental hygiene routine with your cat when their young can help them get use to regular checks and also ensure you’re putting in place preventative measures against any future oral issues. While it may not always be the most enjoyable experience for your feline, regularly checking your cat’s mouth can be an important part of their oral hygiene routine and ensuring their gums and teeth are healthy.
When you check your cat’s mouth, their teeth should be white, clean and free of any chips. Their gums should be a healthy pink colour free from sores, redness, swelling or bleeding. It’s also a good idea to check the back of their mouth and look for any ulcers, swelling or foreign looking bumps. Also be on the look out for any foreign objects, such as string from toys, that may get stuck in their teeth.
While you’re checking your cat’s mouth, also be sure to take note of their breath. Bad breath in cats is often a sign of an infection, whether in their mouth or somewhere else in their body. If you do notice your cat suddenly has bad breath and/or there is a consistent bad smell coming from their mouth, be sure to take them to your vet for a further check up.
If you do find it particularly tricky to check your cat’s mouth, you can always take them to your local vet to a stress free checkup. If you do happen to find anything abnormal during your home check up or notice your cat seems to have trouble swallowing, is drooling or seems to be pawing at their face, be sure to take your furry friend to your local vet for further investigation.
How To Keep Your Cat’s Teeth Clean
Brushing your cat’s teeth is a great way to help keep their oral health in check. Starting this routine when they’re young will allow them to become use to the process and make it easier for you as they develop in adults.
Most often your local pet store or vet clinic will have dental kits available for purchase to ensure you have all the tools you need to give your cat’s teeth a proper clean. Always be sure to use cat toothpaste and NEVER human toothpaste. The high levels of fluoride found in human toothpaste can be toxic to cats, particularly if they ingest larger quantities. Cat toothpaste is fluoride-free and often comes in beef and chicken flavours to make the experience more pleasant and palatable for your cat. It’s important to also never use dental floss as cat’s are at risk of swallowing the thread and causing themselves intestinal damage.
When you begin to brush your cat’s teeth as a kitten, using a piece of gauze covered in their special toothpaste or even a glove or glove finger can help to get your cat use to the process. Having your finger covered in water from their preferred can of food can also make the experience more pleasant for them. Aim to go through this process either daily or twice a week depending on your cat’s needs. As your cat gets older and use to the process, you can continue to use the gauze or purchase a rubber or finger toothbrush. Cradle them during the process to help them feel more calm and supported, while you gently tilt their head back and lift up their chin to open their mouth.
How To Keep You Cat’s Mouth Clean
When it comes to your cat’s dental health, it’s more than just making sure their teeth are clean. Teeth issues typically start with the gums, which can become irritated or inflamed when not looked after properly.
After cleaning your cat’s teeth, take a moment to massage their gums. This will help stimulate the area and aid in any healing or help to strengthen them. The increased blood flow in the area will also help reduce their risk of gum issues later in life. You can also use a range of products to help maintain the overall health of your cat’s mouth.
Your local vet may sell special treats that have been formulated to help control the build up of tarter, remove plaque and keep their breath fresh. Often these treats will be packed with ingredients that are great for their overall oral health including taurine, Vitamin E, selenium and various antiseptics which help fight off bacteria in their mouth. If you are using these tasty treats, just be sure to keep track of how many and how often you’re feeding your cat to ensure you don’t add to many extra calories to their daily diet and begin overfeeding them.
Oral Care Diets
As well as treats, there are also therapeutic and oral care diet options available which are great for cats who have an increased risk of developing oral issues or for owners who want to put an extra preventive measure in place.
- Therapeutic Diets
If your cat has a history of oral issues, therapeutic diet foods can be a great option for helping maintain their mouth health. These types of foods are typically formulated in order to prevent the build of tarter and plaque on your cat’s teeth while also continuing to provide them with a balanced diet full of all the nutrients they need. These foods also often provide many other great health benefits to your cat such as helping to reduce their risk of gingivitis, promoting urinary tract health and boosting their immune systems with antioxidants. While these will generally be good for most adult cats, as they are prescription foods it is best to consult with your local vet before switching your cat’s regular food.
- Oral Care Diets
If your cat doesn’t have any historical oral issues but you would still like to put another preventive measures in place, an oral care diet can be a good option. Just like the therapeutic diets, these foods can help to maintain your cat’s mouth health while also continuing to ensure they have good nutrition.
Dental Sprays & Water Additives
Dental sprays are another great option for maintaining your cats oral health. These are generally sprayed into your cat’s mouth once a day to help control their plaque and tarter levels.
Water additives are also another option however be vigilant when using these that your cat doesn’t stop drinking water all together due to the unfamiliar taste caused by the additive. Also be aware that water additives alone won’t be enough to keep diseases like gingivitis completely at bay and that other dental care will be needed in conjunction with these.
Regular Vet Check Ups
If you struggle to get your cat to cooperate and use any of these at-home options, booking them in for a mouth check up and clean at your local vet may be the best option. Dental cleanings at your vet will likely be performed under a general anaesthesia to ensure your vet can properly remove any plaque build up, give their teeth and gums a good clean and conduct a through oral exam to check for any gum issues. Regular check ups are still recommended even if your cat is happy with any at-home options as dental issues are often slow developing and may be forming even while your cat’s teeth still appear white and healthy.