Tips for keeping your cat’s mouth healthy
Keeping your cat healthy is important so what can we do to reduce the risk of disease, and the associated welfare issues, that tooth problems cause our cats?
in the wild cats are hunters, catching a wide variety of prey such as birds and mice and other small mammals. Eating and crunching on small bones give cats exercise for their teeth and mouth and helps a great deal in keeping the teeth and gums clean and healthy. But our domesticated cats rely upon us for their food – which generally consists largely of soft, moist food and some biscuits.
Whilst the biscuits certainly help, the soft food provides no exercise at all for the teeth, and tends to allow plaque and then tartar to build upon the tooth surface.
Daily (or at least twice weekly) brushing is the key to keeping your cat’s teeth and gums healthy. 5 adult cats can be pretty resistant to having their teeth cleaned, so it’s a good idea to get them used to this process and to have your fingers in their mouth from when they’re kittens. Use a finger cot (a single ‘glove finger’ that can be used when a full-handed glove is not required) or a piece of gauze covered in toothpaste made for cats to ease your kitten into the experience. Covering your finger in the water from a can of tuna will also make the experience more pleasant for them. 1.
In the wild cats are hunters, catching a wide variety of prey such as birds and mice and other small mammals. Eating and crunching on small bones give cats exercise for their teeth and mouth and helps a great deal in keeping the teeth and gums clean and healthy. But our domesticated cats rely upon us for their food – which generally consists largely of soft, moist food and some biscuits.
Whilst the biscuits certainly help, the soft food provides no exercise at all for the teeth, and tends to allow plaque and then tartar to build upon the tooth surface. In my opinion, after many years of experience, cats on a diet of biscuits usually have cleaner and healthier teeth and gums.
If your cat has dental problems
If you’re not regularly brushing your pet’s teeth, they could lose some due to periodontal disease. Poor oral hygiene for both dogs and cats can result in tartar build-up, tooth decay, infections, and gum problems.
To prevent this, brush your dog or cat’s teeth every day (check out our blog post here for a simple how-to), and offer your pet tooth-cleaning snacks. If you’re concerned about your pet’s current dental health, bring him or her into your veterinarian for an examination and a thorough cleaning.
If your cat really won’t tolerate you brushing their teeth, you could try dental gels. You won’t need the brush with gels but you will need to put them on your cat’s teeth. Try getting them used to have their mouth and teeth touched in the same way as brushing. Once you’re both comfortable it should become a daily routine. Gels don’t remove plaque from your cat’s teeth so they’re not as effective as tooth brushing. They can help to slow down problems from developing.
Dental disease is a reality for most cats. By age four, many cats have significant gingivitis and many also have periodontal disease. It is a slow progressing but serious disease that causes pain and affects the overall health and wellbeing. Cats will not show signs of oral discomfort. Because the pain associated with dental problems comes on slowly over time, they simply learn to live with it. That is why it is important that all cats see a veterinarian annually to assess their oral health.
Dental care for cats
There are several ways to ensure proper cat dental care. All of them involve diligence and commitment from you as a cat owner. Your feline friend will not tell you if he or she needs dental care, so it is up to you to proactively address their needs. Good nutrition is the foundation for good dental health
when possible establish a cat tooth cleaning routine when your cat is young
schedule semi-annual exams for cats.
Brushing your cat’s teeth is a great way to avoid dental disease. Ideally, you should introduce dental care at a young age. Although kitten’s teeth don’t need to be brushed, you’ll need to get them used to have their teeth touched to prepare them. Here are our top tips on brushing your cat’s teeth:
ask your vet to show you how to brush your cat’s teeth correctly
buy specialised toothpaste for your cat. Cats should never use human toothpaste.
September 24, 2019
a cat’s teeth are important for their overall health and wellbeing. Providing preventative dental care is important to promoting a good quality of life for your feline friend. It can be easy to forget about your cat’s teeth, and it can even be frustrating trying to keep up with cleaning them. Dental disease is a common problem in pets, with approximately 50-90% of cats showing signs of dental disease by the age of 3.
Supporting Cat Health with Information and Health Studies.
Dental disease such as gingivitis (gum inflammation) is very common in cats but if left untreated can give rise to periodontitis (loss of the supporting structures around the tooth) with subsequent tooth loss and a range of health problems due to chronic inflammation and the immense amount of bacteria present on unhealthy teeth. More information on feline dental disease can be found here. The good news is: mild to moderate gingivitis can be treated with home care and maybe fully reversed without further dental treatment. It is important to start and continue home care before the gums become too sore to touch or any deep pockets form between gums and teeth. The most effective dental home care not surprisingly is toothbrushing.
Dental disease such as gingivitis (gum inflammation) is very common in cats but if left untreated can give rise to periodontitis (loss of the supporting structures around the tooth) with subsequent tooth loss and a range of health problems due to chronic inflammation and the immense amount of bacteria present on unhealthy teeth. More information on feline dental disease can be found here. A detailed step-by-step video instruction guide can be found here.
Brushing Your Cat’s Teeth
Brushing your pet’s teeth is just as important in preventing dental disease as brushing your own. Ideally, your cat should get used to having its teeth cleaned from an early age. Wrapping a piece of soft gauze around your finger and gently rubbing the pet’s teeth should get it used to the idea. You can then move on to using a toothbrush specially designed for cats or a small ordinary toothbrush with soft bristles. Toothbrushes which fit over the end of your finger are available for cats and dogs.
Begin by putting your cat’s toothpaste on your finger and offering it to them to lick. You can even buy toothpaste flavoured with chicken
you will need a toothbrush that is designed for cats too. Have a look in your local pet shop for something suitable
choose a time of day that you can stick to, in order to make teeth brushing part of your pet’s normal routine – ensure you are calm and comfortable.
Imagine not brushing your teeth for a year and you’ll have some idea of what it’s like being a cat. Plaque builds up and hardens (calcifies) after a few days into tartar, which is harder to remove. And that’s not even counting what can happen under the gum line. Here are a few medical terms that will convince you of the importance of brushing. Plaque. The sticky, filmy stuff on your teeth (which cats can get, too).
How to keep cats teeth clean without brushing
Not only has science proven that there are huge health benefits to having clean teeth, but it is also generally accepted that not brushing in not cool. To prove the point, we have redneck jokes about lying through your tooth, a whole mega-billion dollar industry based on fighting bad breath, and yeah, baby, Austin powers. And this is a good thing. Periodontal disease has a number of serious complications. Arguably, better oral hygiene is responsible for a large part of the increase in human lifespan we have seen in the last century.
It might surprise you that cats commonly suffer from disorders of the teeth, jaw and mouth. As cats are great at hiding signs of discomfort and pain, it can be difficult, as an owner, to see that your cat even has an issue. Your cat might appear happy and relaxed, and may even be eating and drinking normally. Oral health issues can be a great source of suffering for our pets and cats often seem to be much livelier and content after treatment. Maintaining good oral health and keeping your cat’s teeth clean is likely to improve the quality of your cat’s life.
At first, your pet may resist but with gentleness, patience and persistence most pets can be trained to accept having their teeth cleaned. A regular brushing every day or at least three times a week will significantly reduce the risk of your pet suffering serious problems or needing frequent general anaesthetics to treat advanced dental disease. Preventative healthcare for your pet is very important. Regular brushing of your pet’s teeth from a young age can prevent the need for veterinary dental attention.
2. Dental prescription diet
Cat behaviourist Clare Remington recommends feeding your cat a complete dental care prescription food for optimal tooth and gum health: ‘these foods have large kibbles that encourage chewing and rub against the tooth’s surface to remove the plaque that forms along the gum line,’ she says. ‘using this type of food can help you to effectively maintain your pet’s healthy teeth and gums. ’ however, keep in mind that while most dental diets are excellent, they should only form one part of your cat’s overall tooth-care plan.
Water additives: products like dog::essential healthy mouth are added to a dog’s water dish to retard plaque, which in turn keep periodontal disease and yucky doggy breath in check. Dental diets: when fed exclusively these dog foods are proven to keep plaque and tartar under control. Dogs generally like to eat them. Examples include hill’s prescription diet t/d canine, hill’s science diet oral care and hill’s healthy advantage oral+ canine. Check out the vohc list for yourself. There are many choices. If brushing is impossible or if your pet has above-average plaque accumulation, try a dental diet. It won’t prevent dental disease, but it may slow disease development. Take care of starting a dental diet if your dog already has a bad mouth.
Diet is another important factor in maintaining your cat’s teeth. Talk with your veterinarian to figure out the best food for your cat’s overall health and also their dental health. For cats with dental disease or oral health issues, there are prescription diets that are specifically designed to help improve a cat’s dental health. These diets have been clinically proven to maintain good dental health when fed to cats.
3. Dental cat treats
You can buy treats for your cat designed to help keep their teeth clean. These are fine as an occasional treat but you shouldn’t rely on them for your cat’s dental health. Try not to feed your cat too many treats to keep their weight down.
Some dental treats can help keep your cat’s teeth clean between brushings. These work by scraping off and/or preventing the formation of plaque and tartar. When shopping for dental treats, look for a vohc seal of acceptance or ask your vet for recommendations. By three years of age, most cats will have some form of mild-to-moderate dental disease that requires a comprehensive oral examination and treatment performed under general anaesthesia. Ask your vet to give you the details on your cat’s teeth during their annual wellness visit. Proactive dental care can decrease risk of other medical conditions (like heart disease, sinus infections, and renal disease), and can contribute to a long life together with your cat.
In addition to brushing your cat’s teeth, you can take other actions to keep their pearly whites clean. Chew toys and oral gels, along with specifically formulated dental treats and food can slow the formation of tartar and avoid the onset of dental disease.
4. Dental cat toys
‘my cats dizzy and Percy have dental toys in the shape of mice,’ says claire Horton-Bussey. ‘they absolutely love them and spend a lot of time chewing on the netted material covering, which acts a bit like dental floss and helps to get any stuck food out of their teeth. A huge benefit of the toys is that it keeps my cats’ teeth clean in a way that they really enjoy – it takes a lot of stress out of tooth care. ’.
While your cat loses her baby teeth, expect to find some tiny kitten crowns lodged in bedding, furniture and rugs. These drop at odd times including when the kitten is eating. You can help relieve your kitten’s teething pains by providing food or treats to keep her teeth and gums healthy. Look for toys that are safe for her to chew. We do recommend starting your kitten out early having her teeth brushed regularly at home. This way, once the teething process is complete, you have an established dental hygiene program in place.
Dental disease is the most common disease seen by veterinarians: 70-85% of pets over the age of 2 have some form of dental disease. Most cats with significant dental disease are still eating normally, despite dangerous infections or painful teeth. Here are some signs that your pet may have the dental disease:
swollen face, mouth, jaws, or gums
drooling or discharge from the mouth
doesn’t play with toys as often
pain when eating (rare)
it is important to have your cat checked for dental disease, as this disease can have major impacts on your cat’s organs, including the heart, liver, and kidneys.
How to Look After Your Cat’s Teeth
Extraction of teeth in the caudal maxilla of dogs and cats may be associated with damage to the surrounding tissues, including the orbit and globe, especially if the patient has concurrent periodontal disease. 16 the apices of the maxillary fourth premolar and first and second molars in the dog and the maxillary fourth premolar and first molar in the cat lie in close proximity to the ventral floor of the orbit, and only a thin shelf of alveolar bone surrounds these tooth roots (figure 12). The bony orbit of the dog and cat is incomplete; the floor of the orbit is composed of soft tissues, including the zygomatic salivary gland, orbital fat, and medial pterygoid muscle. 17 inadvertent penetration of the orbital floor during caudal maxillary tooth extraction is often multifactorial and may be associated with the regional anatomy, periodontal pathology, and improper or aggressive extraction techniques.
There are a number of dental issues that may result in your cat having to have a tooth extracted. Unlike humans, root canal treatment and crown repair techniques are rarely used in cats. Cat tooth issues that might result in extraction could include:
tooth fractures – if your cat has suffered an accident or a fall from a great height, they can commonly suffer fractures
wearing of the teeth – excessive wear may need to result in extraction.
Just like humans, cats also need to have a daily oral care regime. It’s important to clean your cat’s teeth in some way every day to remove the plaque that adheres to their teeth every day. If the plaque is not removed and is left in contact with the tooth, it will harden to form tartar within just a few days. Tartar cannot be brushed away and can lead to the start of gum problems which cause pain and discomfort. Feeding your cat a mixture of dry and wet food delivers food with a variety of tastes and textures which cats really enjoy. The additional benefit of feeding dry food is that the dry kibble creates abrasion on the surface of the teeth which can help to wipe plaque away which helps to clean their teeth.
Dental disease in cats
Cats get an unusual dental disease. It’s not cavities. It’s not a periodontal disease. It is a condition which happens very rarely to dogs or people, but which is quite common in cats. We’re talking about resorptive lesions (but we’ll call them RL’s for short from now on). They used to be called forl’s, which is short for the feline odontoclastic resorptive lesion. The veterinary dental guru’s now just called them resorptive lesions, or rl’s because as our understanding of them progressed, we found that the odontoclasts weren’t such a big part of it after all. I guess the key point here is that while we as veterinary dentists are very familiar with what resorptive lesions look like, we really are just in the investigative stages as far as understanding what causes them.
Watch for signs of possible dental issues such as bad breath
tell your vet during the checkup about any behaviours you’ve noticed or concerns you have
early prevention is extremely important to avoiding or treating serious dental issues
proper cat teeth cleaning consists of an oral exam and x-rays under anaesthesia in order to properly diagnose any dental disease that may be present. Most of the dental disease in cats is under the gum line. Many cats produce feline odontoclastic resorption lesions (forl) in their teeth. These are cavity like lesions at the neck of the tooth (where the gum meets the tooth). These lesions cause the roots to be resorbed. These lesions are painful. Unfortunately, your cat will naturally adapt to live with the pain these lesions cause.
Diseases of the teeth and gums are common in cats. Studies report that between 50 and 90% of cats older than four years of age suffer from some form of dental disease, but fortunately, the most common forms of these diseases are largely preventable or treatable with appropriate preventive dental care and monitoring. The three most common dental diseases in cats are gingivitis, periodontitis, and tooth resorption, and the severity of each of these conditions can vary significantly. Dental disease in cats can cause serious pain and discomfort, which can impact a cat’s quality of life. In many cases, dental disease causes a cat to stop eating, which leads to a variety of health problems.
Dentalife dental cat treats
Dental health is important to Emma Kirkham, owner of four-year-old molly and three-year-old daisy, but because they dislike having their teeth brushed she supplements their tooth care with dental chews. ‘i think that I would lose a finger if I tried to use any sort of brush on my cats,’ Emma says, ‘so I give them dental treats instead. They help to keep their teeth clean and their breath fresh and, as molly and daisy love the taste of the treats, they make a great reward, too. ’.
There’s a whole industry full of treats specially designed for fighting cat bad breath. Just take a walk down the pet aisle and you’ll see for yourself. Grab a few different brands to see which works best. The veterinary oral health council has a list of approved products for cats which they frequently update with new products. For treats, the vohc recommends feline greenies, Purina pro plan dental crunch cat snacks, and Purina dentalife daily oral care cat treats.
When feeding your cat, it’s worth:
avoiding feeding them sugary or starchy treats. These encourage bacterial growth in plaque, which releases acid that can cause teeth to decay
feeding them dry food. Cats that eat this are less likely to suffer from dental disease in adulthood. That’s because of the hard texture of the kibble helps to remove plaque and prevents food and bacteria gathering around the gum line.
How Important Is Dental Hygiene for Dogs and Cats?
‘kittens lose their milk teeth, so there’s no need to worry too much about their actual teeth at this stage,’ says Petplan veterinary expert brian Faulkner. ‘instead, what you should focus on is getting your cat used to having their mouth opened and touched, as this will help you to one day maintain their permanent teeth – which is vitally important as they get older. ‘because cats generally aren’t as cooperative as dogs when it comes to brushing teeth, I recommend dental gels as a good alternative. These gels contain enzymes that kill the germs which cause tartar build-up, tooth decay and gum disease. You’ll have to apply it to your cat’s teeth daily using a special finger applicator, but you won’t need to use a brush.
Our pets are living longer, and that means dental care is more important now than it ever was. Dental disease, which includes calculus buildup and gingivitis, is one of the most prevalent diseases in dogs and cats. It can also cause a number of systemic diseases, such as when bacteria from a dirty mouth get into the bloodstream with the potential to damage the heart or kidneys. We have learned that our pets’ teeth need, in an ideal world, as much care as our own teeth require.
Both dogs and cats can get dental abscesses. Just like in humans, these types of abscesses are typically caused by decay in the tooth and root. And just like with people, they can be painful and dangerous. An abscess is a type of infection, and if not treated, can spread to the bloodstream. This can cause your pet to get sick and possibly even die. Because of this, it is important to know what the signs are of an abscess in your pet. Here are a few of the most common symptoms of this condition in cats and dogs.
These tips can help:
Use dental gel. This is important for adult cats since kittens will eventually lose their milk teeth. Use a dental prescription diet for your cat.
Provide them dental cat treats.
To let your cats play with dental cat toys.