Cat dentistry - what cat owners need to know
Here at Alder Vets in Guildford we understand and believe that your cat’s dental hygiene is just as important as any other routine and preventative treatment. As a result of this, we recommend proactive and reactive preventative dental care that you and veterinary professionals like us can administer. Like humans, cats can develop a build-up of tartar, which can lead to tooth decay and gum disease. Brushing your cat’s teeth once or twice a day is the best option for good oral hygiene. At Crofts Vet, our team are happy to assist you with any questions or concerns you may have about your cat's dental care, as well as advising you on the recommended products or dental diets for your cat.
Symptoms of dental disease in cats
Cats can be very good at hiding signs of pain, as a result, owners aren’t aware that their cat has dental problems such as dental disease; this is why our vets and nurses perform a dental check at each general consultation. Some cats with severe dental disease, root exposure, severe gingivitis (inflammation of the gums), or tooth root infections will continue to eat, showing only subtle signs that there may be a problem. Catching and spotting cat dental disease early can help reduce reduce the number of potential extractions or dental procedures required.
Plaque can be removed by tooth brushing; however, tarter will not be removed by brushing alone; if this is already present, the best action for this is a scale and polish to remove this, followed by tooth brushing to prevent the buildup from occurring again. A general anaesthesia is required for all dental procedures; however, a scale and polish procedure is much shorter with a faster recovery compared to your cat having multiple extractions.
What are the signs of dental disease in cats?
- bad breath (halitosis)
- visible tartar build-up on teeth
- red or inflamed gums (gingivitis)
- discoloured teeth
- loose teeth
- bleeding from the mouth
- slowness or reluctance to eat
- chewing on one side of the mouth
- dropping food from the mouth when eating
- swelling around the mouth (from potential tooth root abscesses)
How can this be prevented?
The best way to maintain healthy teeth is to brush your cat’s teeth daily. The Crofts Vets' team would be happy to provide help and tips in doing this effectively and how to comfortably introduce this to your cat.
It can also be beneficial to have a scale and polish performed regularly to clean the teeth thoroughly. This is similar to the treatment we would receive from a dental hygienist. These are done under a short general anaesthetic as cats won’t sit in one position for a prolonged period and we must ensure their safety and the team’s safety when in the vicinity of sharp teeth!
Feline odontoclastic resorptive lesions (FORLs)
Cats also get another form of dental disease known as feline odontoclastic resorptive lesions (FORLs). It has an unknown cause, but 75% of cats are thought to be affected. It is particularly common in cats over five years but can occur at any age.
In these lesions, part of the tooth is eaten away by the tooth itself, forming a small hole in the enamel close to the gum line. These lesions are very painful for cats and can lead to tooth fractures as they weaken the teeth. They require extraction to resolve.