You would never consider neglecting your teeth, not just because your smile is an important part of who you are, but because teeth perform a vital part in your overall health. Your cat's teeth are no different and require the same type of attention you give yours. And yes, that includes brushing.
The Importance of Cat Dental Care
According to researchers at Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, 50 percent to 90 percent of cats older than 4 years of age suffer from some form of dental disease. The most common is gingivitis or inflammation of the gums. If this is not treated, it can turn into more serious periodontal disease, which can cause serious consequences for your cat's overall health.
In addition to pain and discomfort, periodontal disease can cause your cat to stop eating, causing weight loss and malnutrition. The disease can affect the underlying gum tissue and boney structures that support your cat's teeth, which can lead to tooth loss. Periodontal disease can also lead to bacterial infection of the gums, which can be carried via the bloodstream to the heart, kidneys, and lungs, where it can cause serious health complications.
Preventing Periodontal Disease
Periodontal disease is the result of not taking action when your kitty is young. Without early intervention to remove the plaque that naturally forms on your cat's teeth simply from eating, it will likely turn into periodontal disease. But fortunately, you can take action to prevent tooth plaque from becoming gum disease.
The best way to get rid of the plaque that forms on your cat's teeth is the same as what removes it from your teeth — brushing. But of course, your kitty needs a little help. Your cat won't understand, and won't appreciate the help, but you need to take the toothbrush in hand anyway.
The best way to start proactive care for your cat's teeth is to start as early as possible. A kitten can adapt to daily mouth handling if you approach it gradually.
Use a soft-bristled brush and a pet-formulated toothpaste. Don't use your own toothpaste, as it contains additives that shouldn't be ingested on a regular basis, which is a problem for cats will because they don't spit. Simply brush carefully and gently, from gums upward, as you would your child. Give them plenty of love before and after so they learn to accept and even come to look forward to it over time.
If you have an adult cat that absolutely refuses to accept the brushing, you may have to resort to a pet dental wipe or rinse that can help delay the onset of gum disease. But, however you deal with your cat's dental health, a yearly exam by your veterinarian can tell you how well you're managing your feline friend's dental care and whether you need to take additional steps to prevent the consequences of gum disease.
A cat dentist can advise you on approaching your cat's teeth and can recommend products for you. Contact a local cat dentist for more information.