Cats are quiet warriors, often fighting tooth disease without any signs of external pain. This may make it difficult to identify dental problems at home, especially since cats are not always best at "openings"!
The cat has 30 permanent teeth, 16 at the top and 14 at the bottom. In a healthy mouth, these teeth are milky white, there should be no deposits on the teeth, and the gums should be pink.
Prevention is better than cure. Proactively protecting your cat's teeth can greatly reduce the incidence of dental disease, making cats happier and less veterinary.
There are several ways to take care of a cat's teeth:
- Brushing your teeth: This is the gold standard for cat oral home care. It should start as soon as possible, just like people!
- Oral Gel: These gels are used between the cheeks and the teeth every day to help neutralize plaque and bad breath.
- Food Additives: These can be added to food or water and should be used daily to help prevent plaque formation.
- Dental diet: If your cat has a high risk of dental disease, the prescription dental diet is specifically designed to protect your teeth.
As cats age, their teeth begin to grow tartar and plaque. The gums may be inflamed (a disease called gingivitis) and may subside. Gingivitis is a reversible home care or small veterinarian intervention if treated promptly. If left untreated, gingivitis develops into periodontitis, including bone damage around the roots. When this happens, the teeth become loose, may fall off or break, and the infection/abscess can be seen.
Cats also develop a special dental condition called "cat orthodontic absorption damage" or forl. These are the corrosion of the teeth and the gums, which can be very painful.
Naturally, the development of dental disease is a painful process. Flags are usually ambiguous or non-existent, but can include:
- Eat picky eaters
- Becoming withdrawn
- Anorexia behavior
- Bad breath
- Lose weight
Some behavioral changes are attributed to old age, which may actually be due to oral pain and may be difficult to notice. In fact, some cats may have no external signs at all! Since cats are often not good at pointing out health problems, regular dental checkups with veterinarians or nurses are the only way to ensure your cat is not affected by tooth pain.
It's important to note that there is no sign that your cat has no pain. The cat tries to hide the pain and is very good at it. In addition to pain, oral infections often occur in advanced dental conditions, and infections from the mouth may spread around the body, worsening organ conditions such as kidney, heart and liver diseases. This means that dental diseases found in your cat should be treated quickly to ensure their comfort and long-lasting good general health.
A dental exam is a good way for your clinical team to check your pet's mouth, but in a conscious exam, the entire mouth may be difficult to fully check. These tests allow us to estimate the level of treatment required, but if your pet is undergoing dental treatment under general anesthesia, a thorough examination of each tooth is performed. This will ensure that nothing is missed.