Having healthy teeth provides the right conditions for a healthy and happy cat. A cat with good oral health can even live longer! In this article, we will go through what may be important to consider, which dental diseases are present in cats, and how to take care of the cat's mouth in the best way!
Why is it important to take care of the cat's teeth?
Dental disease is a common problem in many cats. Studies show that around 50-90% of all cats over the age of four suffer from some form of dental disease. Dental disease not only means pain and discomfort in the mouth, but can also affect the cat's general health. Poor oral hygiene means constant inflammation in the body, which in the long run can increase the risk of other diseases. Taking care of the cat's dental health is therefore of the utmost importance for a healthy and happy cat.
Not only is taking care of your teeth important for long-term disease prevention, but dental disease also causes pain and discomfort. It is not uncommon for cats to walk around with toothaches without showing any symptoms of pain. If the cat has inflammation of the gums or poor oral hygiene for a long time, it can lead to periodontitis, i.e. the cat loses teeth. If you are unsure whether your cat's teeth and gums are healthy, you should always ask your vet for advice.
What can cause bad breath in cats?
Bad breath in cats can be linked to tartar and inflammation in the mouth. Plaque is a bacterial film that forms on the teeth, which when mixed with minerals in the cat's saliva, builds up into tartar. This in turn leads to infection and inflammation of the gums. Infection in the teeth and gums can cause very bad breath in the cat. In other words, if your cat has bad breath, you should make an appointment with your veterinarian to have the mouth checked. If tartar and inflammation of the gums are not addressed, in the long term it can lead to the cat losing its teeth, i.e. developing periodontitis, which we tell you more about below.
Do you have to brush your cat's teeth?
Some of the most common dental diseases can be prevented by brushing your cat's teeth. Below we go through the cat's most common dental diseases, as well as tips on how to get started with brushing your cat's teeth.
Gingivitis and periodontitis
Gingivitis is a medical term that means inflammation of the gums. Gingivitis often occurs as a result of plaque and calculus, which creates red and inflamed gums. If tartar and gingivitis continue for a long time, it in turn leads to the consequent disease periodontitis. Periodontitis means tooth loss, that is, the attachment of the tooth to the tooth bone begins to loosen, and the cat eventually loses the teeth if it is not treated. Gingivitis and periodontitis can be prevented with the help of tooth brushing, when you keep the teeth clean of the plaque and tartar that cause it.
Tooth resorption, also known as TR or FORL, is a very common dental disease in cats, which causes the enamel and roots of the teeth to break down. It is not known what causes tooth resorption, but a large factor seems to be genetic, as the disease is more often seen in purebred cats such as Siamese and Persian cats. As the cause is not fully understood, it is currently unclear whether tooth brushing can prevent the disease, but it is seen that good oral hygiene provides better conditions for healthier gums, which means that it is always recommended even in cats affected by TR.
Brushing the teeth prevents disease
Starting to brush your cat's teeth can feel challenging and difficult. It is important to start gradually, and slowly get the cat used to handling the mouth, before starting with a toothbrush. The links below give you some tips if you want to start training.
How do I keep my cat's teeth healthy?
Since tooth brushing can prevent both gingivitis, tooth loss and possibly also tooth resorption, it is recommended to keep your cat's mouth healthy. If it is difficult to brush teeth, it can still be good to make it a routine to regularly look in the cat's mouth. Then you will quickly learn to recognize if something deviates, such as the gums looking red or a tooth looking discolored or damaged.
It is also good to visit your vet regularly to have the mouth checked, and cleaning if necessary. Many cats do well to have their mouths cleaned by the vet at regular intervals, just as we humans need to visit the dental hygienist. Follow your vet's recommendations and you can feel confident that you are giving your cat the best conditions for healthy teeth and good health!