Cats not only have canine teeth, they have four of them. Sharp as pins, these large front canine teeth are used like knives when cats hunt small prey or defend themselves. They’re also used, with great care, by a mother cat as she picks up and moves her kittens. According to veterinary dental experts, the canine teeth are the ones most commonly fractured in cats. Most often, it is the tip of the tooth that breaks, which can leave the nerve and blood supply (known as the pulp) exposed. This can be very painful. To make matters worse, a broken tooth is more likely to become infected, which increases a cat’s risk for oral disease.
How high is the risk of oral disease in my cat?
Periodontal disease is the most common infectious disease in cats, as well as dogs. The American Veterinary Dental Society (AVDS) reports that 70% of cats and 80% of dogs over 3 years old show some signs of periodontal disease. If left untreated, oral disease can lead to serious consequences for your pet, including severe pain, bad breath and tooth loss. Even worse, periodontal disease doesn’t stop at the mouth. Chronic infection can spread harmful bacteria to, and infect, the heart, lungs, liver and kidneys. It’s this dangerous spread of bacteria that poses the most serious threat to your pet’s health. Fortunately, periodontal disease is also easy to prevent through routine dental care.
How can I tell if my cat’s teeth are healthy?
To check the health of your cat’s mouth, just take a look— then smell his or her breath. If you see yellow or brown tartar buildup or swollen, red gums, your cat may have periodontal disease. Persistent bad breath is another big clue.
Additional signs of oral disease may also include:
- Pain or discomfort around your cat’s mouth or jaw
- Difficulty chewing and eating
- Receding and infected gums
- Tooth loss
How can I take better care of my pet’s teeth?
The best way to protect your cat from oral disease starts with a trip to your veterinarian for an examination and professional cleaning. In fact, the American Veterinary Medical Association recommends a pet dental check-up every year.
“But in the same way that we go to the dentist and then make dental care a part of our daily routine, pets also need daily dental care,” Lobprise said. “Our pet’s teeth have the very same needs.” Will home dental care for my cat be complicated?
Actually, a few minutes each day and a few simple steps can protect your pet’s teeth and overall health. The simplest way to prevent plaque and tartar buildup on a daily basis is to give your pet clinically proven dental chews made especially for pets. Another good option is to use an oral rinse, such as C.E.T. AQUADENT® Drinking Water Additive by Virbac Animal Health, that’s made to add to your pet’s drinking water each day. Finally, try brushing. This is the best way to protect your pet’s teeth, and the health benefits are worth the effort. To make it easier, ask your vet about C.E.T.® chews, brushes and paste, which are all made especially for cats and dogs.
Questions lead to better answers.
For more about pet oral health, go to www.cetdental.com.