Dental issues are very common in cats and so it’s important to begin dental care with your pet from a young age, in order to prevent these complications later in life.
Adult cats have 30 permanent teeth and kittens have 26 deciduous teeth. Kittens usually lose their deciduous teeth between 3-6 months.
Common Dental Problems
- Plaque – like humans, our pets can suffer from a buildup of plaque on their teeth. Plaque is a soft sticky deposit that contains millions of bacteria and accumulates on teeth. Daily brushing can easily remove plaque, but if it combines with minerals in saliva and food, it can form into a hard brownish rock-type material, commonly known as tartar.
- Tartar – is very common and can only be removed through scaling and polishing the teeth. In pets, this procedure requires a full general anaesthetic, so we strongly encourage owners to develop a good dental health regime from a young age, to avoid potential dental surgery later in life.
- Gingivitis and other forms of Gum Disease – are particularly common in cats. This is a bacterial infection caused by the accumulation of plaque and tartar. The gums become inflamed and sore, leading to the destruction of tissue and the formation of pus in the cavities between the gums and teeth. The infection usually starts with one tooth and, if left untreated, quickly spreads around the mouth.
- Receding gums – if inflamed gums go unnoticed and are not treated, this can quickly snowball to bleeding, sore gums which recede away from the roots of the teeth. Should this occur, the teeth themselves become exposed to infection, potential loss and abscesses.
It is essential to keep an eye on your pet’s teeth to ensure that they remain clean and healthy, and to reduce the risk of costly surgery as your pets grow older.
Recognising Dental Health Problems
Cats can often be reluctant to let us know when there is something wrong – particularly with dental issues. However, there are symptoms that are common to both cats and dogs that owners should be aware of. These include:
- Bad breath
- Excessive drooling
- Pawing the mouth
- Red, bleeding gums
- Discomfort when eating
- Reduced food intake
- Weight loss
- Less grooming or poor coat quality
If your pet is showing any of these symptoms and you are worried about their dental health, then please contact us straight away.
Remember, we offer free nurse dental checks at the practice so it will cost you nothing to put your mind at ease.
Preventing Dental Health Problems
The following measures are effective, relatively inexpensive and will be beneficial to both you and your pet. These include:
1 – Try to develop a daily brushing habit. Some animals are initially adverse to this, so it’s best to begin as soon as possible when your pets are young enough to grow used to the brushing. We recommend that you introduce brushing gradually to your pet’s routine to increase the chance of success.
2 – Utilise some of the many pet dental products on the market, such as flavoured toothpaste and special finger brushes. Our Veterinary Nurses will be happy to advise on which dental health products would be most suitable for your pet and their needs. Alternatively, take a look at our online shop.
3 – Choose a high-quality dry food diet for your pet.
4 – Avoid giving your pets sugary treats and human foods, especially the ones that are bad for human teeth too!
If you are concerned about your pet’s dental health, please contact the surgery and book them in for a free dental health check. For any other dental queries, please contact a member of our vet nursing team.