The seriousness of maintaining dental hygiene cannot be ignored. According to the team at Flinders View Veterinary Surgery, all cats from the age of three are “80% more likely to develop a serious dental disease.” Tartar on the teeth is the main problem vets attribute to these high figures. When tartar or plague is left on the surface of a cat’s teeth the feline’s gums can swiftly become inflamed with a condition more commonly known as gingivitis. Left to further develop gingivitis can result in periodontal disease, which can result in bleeding gums or the loss of teeth. Eventually if bacteria is left unchecked it can spread from the teeth to your cat’s kidneys, heart, lungs, or liver causing irreversible damage.
There are thankfully several points where an observant cat owner can intervene before such damage takes place. Noticing the signs of dental disease is the first line of defence against it. Symptoms include bad breath, drooling, pawing at the mouth, red gums, or a change in eating patterns such a refusing or dropping food.
Vets also recommend a regular hygiene routine that includes brushing your beloved pet’s teeth. It is also important to ensure you do not forget to massage their gums in order to reduce the risk of gum disease.
Brushing your cat’s teeth can be difficult, as cats are usually reluctant to let owner’s do so. It is best to introduce brushing slowly to your pet: start by simply using your finger to ‘brush’ your pet’s mouth. Once they appear willing to allow this you can begin adding tooth paste and eventually a brush – a cat toothbrush or a child’s toothbrush can work well given their size.
It is important to remain patient throughout. Be gentle and reassure your pet whenever possible.
If tartar remains present on their teeth booking a professional descale and polish is the best course of action in order to prevent both pain and further dental disease. Many veterinary practices have free dental checks or discounted cleans for such a purpose. Further recommendations include dental toys and a dental diet with dry biscuits both designed to remove tartar and maintain teeth cleanliness. Please remember that all dental diets should be given only at the advice of your vet.