Your dentist tells you that biannual dental cleanings are important for keeping your teeth and gums healthy, but do you give that type of attention to your cat’s teeth and gums? You brush your own teeth twice a day to prevent problems, but how often do you brush your cat’s teeth? Would you know if your cat’s mouth is unhealthy?
Cats are exceptionally good at masking pain and discomfort, so don’t think that just because your cat is eating well he has a healthy mouth. Many cats with advanced oral and dental disease eat normally, even though some stop eating. I have had hundreds of cat parents tell me that they didn’t realize how much their cat’s mouth was bothering him until dentistry was performed and problem teeth were treated. I am often told a week or so after performing dentistry, “It’s like I have a new cat!”
The American Veterinary Dental Society (AVDS) reports that 70 percent of cats over the age of 3 show signs of dental disease. Untreated dental disease causes pain and leads to oral infections that can spread bacteria elsewhere in the body. Your cat should have a thorough oral exam conducted by his veterinarian at least once a year. This typically occurs during his comprehensive annual physical examination. How often professional dental cleaning or other oral treatments are needed during a catÕs lifetime depends on many factors, including breed, age, diet, home dental care and health status. It also depends on the presence of feline dental diseases such as gingivitis, stomatitis and feline odontoclastic resorptive lesions (FORLs).
**Get the February 2011 issue of CAT FANCY to read the full article or click here to purchase a PDF version.**