Cat parents should be aware of the importance of a daily oral hygiene regimen. This starts with diagnosing and treating any preexisting dental disease. You can get a reasonable idea of what’s going on inside your cat’s mouth by simply opening it and taking a look. Check for halitosis (bad breath), gingivitis (red, inflamed gums), and tartar. If you are unsure of the significance of what you are seeing, make an appointment with us for a dental examination. Generally, the mere presence of one or more of these symptoms warrants scheduling such a visit for dental assessment and potential treatment. A professional cleaning requires general anesthesia and diagnostics including full mouth radiographs to detect “hidden” disease. Please ask for additional information about dental cleanings, to request an estimate, or to schedule an appointment.
Once existing disease has been diagnosed and treated, we promote routine preventative measures to delay or avert recurrence. In short, this means daily oral hygiene. For most cats, this involves one or more of the following steps. Think of these steps as tools in your “Oral Care Toolbox.” The more tools you use regularly, the more balanced, comprehensive and effective your home care program.
For optimal results we recommend daily brushing. Use toothpaste formulated specifically for cats, not for people. Daily brushing is important as studies have verified that brushing only once or twice a week has minimal impact on the accumulation of plaque. We acknowledge that brushing the teeth of some pets, particularly cats, is simply impractical. Understand that in these patients, plaque and tartar will accumulate faster and that they will require more frequent examinations and possible cleanings.
This clear, tasteless gel is applied by finger to the teeth once weekly. It forms a protective barrier on the tooth, making it more difficult for plaque to attach and accumulate. The sealant is not disturbed by daily brushing.
If used consistently, water additives can be a useful adjunct in plaque and tartar control.
There are a number of treats available for your cat to assist in the delay and management of periodontal disease. We currently recommend Greenies and CET dental chews for cats.
We mentioned the “big three” of halitosis, gingivitis and tartar. Check your cat’s mouth regularly (easy if you’re brushing daily!). Schedule an appointment so we can examine the entire mouth and start a dialogue about your friend’s oral health and home care plan.
The VOHC is a committee of veterinary dental specialists whose purpose it to evaluate research about animal oral health. Much of the research is submitted by companies that manufacture oral care products. If a product can be scientifically demonstrated to be efficacious in reducing plaque and tartar, the council can provide its own “Seal of Acceptance” and list it on their website at VOHC.com. Look for this seal when selecting dental care products for your cat or check the website before buying.
Awareness is the first step in monitoring and maintaining your companion’s health. You now have the tools to develop and implement a plaque management program that will keep you can free from discomfort and infection.
Get the entire family involved! Brushing your cat’s teeth is a great way to emphasize the importance of oral health to children. Additionally, if every individual in a family brushes the cat’s teeth once or twice a week, you are well on your way to providing daily cleaning. Performing any of these steps is an important contribution. Committing to multiple steps will grow the benefit. Accordingly, you will be assuring your feline friend an optimal quality of life and maximum longevity.