Dental health in cats is more important than you realize!

Cat with broken teeth.
Image via Wikipedia

Even if the only things your cat hunts these days are salmon-flavored kibbles and toys, he still needs clean, sharp teeth and healthy gums. Damage to the tongue, teeth, palate and gums can lead to many health risks for felines, but these can be prevented with routine veterinary examinations, regular tooth brushings at home and an annual professional cleaning at our clinic!

1. The Breath Test

Go on, take a sniff. It doesn’t have to be a long one—cat breath may not smell like roses, but it shouldn’t be offensive either. If your kitty’s mouth has an abnormally strong odor, he may have digestive problems or a gum condition such as gingivitis, and should be examined by a vet.

2. Lip Service

With your cat facing you, gently push back his lips and take a look. The gums should be firm and pink, not white or red, and should show no signs of swelling. The teeth should be clean and free of any brownish tartar, and none should be loose or broken.

3. A Closer Look 

Watch for any of the following signs that could indicate problems in your cat’s mouth:

• Dark red line along the gums
• Red and swollen gums
• Ulcers on gums or tongue
• Loose teeth
• Pus
• Difficulty chewing food
• Excessive drooling
• Excessive pawing at the mouth area

4. Dangerous Swelling 

At any sign of gum inflammation, you should take your cat in for a veterinary exam. If left untreated, gum disease can develop, possibly leading to tooth loss or inability to eat. Inflammation may also point to an internal problem like kidney disease or Feline Immunodeficiency Virus.

5. The Lowdown on Tooth Decay 

Bacteria and plaque-forming foods can cause a buildup on a cat’s teeth. This can harden into tartar, possibly causing gingivitis, receding gums and tooth loss. The solution? Regular teeth cleanings at home and an annual professional cleaning at our clinic.

6. Your Cat’s Tooth-Brushing Kit 

All you’ll need to brush your cat’s teeth are cotton swabs and a small toothbrush and tube of toothpaste formulated for felines. You can also use salt and water. Ask us to suggest the brushing supplies that we trust and recommend, and be sure never to use toothpaste designed for people—the ingredients can be unhealthy for your cat.

7. Brightening the Pearly Whites 

Brush your cat’s teeth at home by following these simple steps:

• First get your cat used to the idea of having his teeth brushed. Start by gently massaging his gums with your fingers or touching a cotton swab to them.
• After a few sessions, put a little bit of cat-formulated toothpaste on his lips to get him used to the taste.
• Next, introduce a toothbrush designed especially for cats—it will be smaller than human toothbrushes and have softer bristles. Toothbrushes that you can wear over your finger are also available and allow you to give a nice massage to your cat’s gums.
• Finally, apply the toothpaste to his teeth for a gentle brushing.
• A veterinary exam beforehand may be helpful to find out if your cat’s gums are inflamed. Many cats have mild gingivitis and brushing too hard can hurt their gums.
• Also, take the time to schedule the annual professional cleaning for your favorite furry feline!

8. Chew on This 

Chew toys can satisfy your cat’s natural desire to chomp, while making his teeth strong. Gnawing on a chew toy can also help floss your cat’s teeth, massage his gums and scrape away soft tartar.

9. Diet for Healthy Teeth

If your cat has dental troubles, ask us to recommend a food that keeps feline teeth healthy and helps to remove plaque buildup.

10. Know Your Mouth Disorders 

If your cat suffers from any of the symptoms mentioned below, please call us immediately:

Gingivitis: This inflammation of the gums is mainly seen in older cats. It may start as a dark red line bordering on the teeth. If left untreated, gums may become sore and ulceration may occur. May be a sign of disease or other infection.

Periodontitis: If gingivitis invades the tooth socket, the tooth may become loose and an abscess may form.

Stomatitis: This inflammation of the mouth lining may result from a foreign body in the mouth, a viral disease or dental problems. The cat will have difficulty eating and the inside of the mouth will appear red.

Rodent Ulcer: A slowly enlarging sore or swelling on the upper lip.

Salivary Cyst: If salivary glands or ducts that carry saliva to the mouth become blocked, a cyst may form under the tongue.

Mouth Ulcers: Ulcers on a cat’s tongue and gums are sometimes caused by feline respiratory or kidney disease.

Call us today at 614-888-4050 to schedule an examination and professional teeth cleaning for your pet!  The preventive measures you take today will save you worry and money tomorrow!

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