Cat Dental

Keeping your pet’s teeth clean is important for his/her health. It is a good idea to consider how you will manage your pet’s oral hygiene well before their adult teeth come through.

Health problems associated with dental disease:
  • Pain – animals do not exhibit pain in the same way as people. Behaviour changes can be very subtle and by the time they stop eating the dental disease is often very severe and will have been proceeded by months of increasing discomfort
  • Organ damage – studies have shown that severe cat dental disease can lead to heart, liver, kidney and respiratory problems
  • Tooth loss – if tartar is allowed to build up it will result in the need for a scale and polish under general anaesthetic or, if left untreated, ultimately receding gums, exposing the tooth root and requiring dental extraction under a general anaesthetic
  • Bone destruction – advanced dental disease can result in bone destruction. As there is a connection between the mouth and nose, this can lead to further complications, such as spontaneous fractures of the jaw and severe pain.

Once plaque has changed into tartar, the preventative methods below will not be able to remove the build up and often the only option is a scale and polish, which requires a general anaesthetic.

Options we recommend for preventative dental care in cats (from 1 year of age)

Dental diets – This is the easiest option for cats

There are special diets (Hill’s t/d) available in a complete biscuit form that are proven to mechanically remove plaque from teeth (effectively like brushing), unlike normal dry food which has little effect on plaque. These diets are very effective as long as your cat chews his/her food. These are suitable for adult cats, so when your cat is swapping from kitten to adult food this is an ideal diet to choose.

Tooth brushing – This is an option, but not many cats will tolerate daily brushing!

You will need a (soft) toothbrush and a tooth paste formulated for pets. This is essential as human tooth pastes have a high fluoride content which can be toxic to cats and dogs. Their tooth paste also tastes nice to them (chicken/fish flavour!) which will hopefully make brushing a more positive experience.

Getting your pet used to being handled and touched around the mouth is a good first step. Always reward them afterwards e.g. praise, a treat or their dinner!

Start the process gradually, getting your pet used to you touching its gums, then brush one tooth a day. Move up to a couple of teeth per day, then one side per day. Eventually you should be able to brush the whole mouth, although there is no need to brush the inside of the teeth. The technique is really the same as for humans; a circular movement around the area where the tooth meets the gum.

There may be some bleeding to start with but this should stop once the plaque levels are reduced.  If it doesn’t, please come in for a check with one of our Nurses. You need to brush daily to be effective.