We aren’t really sure why cats tend to get less regular veterinary care from their owners than their canine counterparts, but it’s a fact. Perhaps it’s that independent nature of theirs tricking us into thinking they don’t need as much as dogs do. To a limited extent, this may be true because—let’s face it—cats are far less likely to swallow a pair of socks just for fun. They are far too sensible. When it comes to routine care, though, we need to remember that their bodies go through the same, natural “wear and tear” over time that we all do.
Dental disease in cats is an area of high concern for veterinarians. It happens to them all, and it begins sooner than you probably think. Almost all cats will develop dental disease before they even reach their senior years, so this is not an “old cat” problem.
What’s the big deal? Heart, liver, and kidney problems caused by the bacteria associated with dental disease. Pain. Broken teeth. Inflamed gums. What begins as tartar and gingivitis, even in young cats, turns into severe problems over time. Addressed early enough, many dental problems can be reversed, but there is a point of no return as permanent damage is done.
This is why it’s so important for cats to get routine wellness checkups. Veterinarians look at your cat’s teeth, checking for signs of dental disease, as part of any wellness exam. Catching—and addressing—this early really is critical for whole body health over time. Often, even an exam on a sick cat who isn’t eating or who is drooling will show that the problem is pain and disease or damage in the mouth.
For pets, a thorough dental cleaning and tooth-by-tooth examination is typically needed at least a couple of times in their lives. Your vet will recommend a good time to have this done based on the condition of the teeth and gums during your exam. Just like with dogs, dentals are done under anaesthesia and with the same attention to detail that human dentists give their patients. If needed, x-rays will be done to see if a tooth needs to be surgically removed due to damage, The status of each tooth and surrounding tissue will be charted out for future reference as well.
Dental cleanings are very thorough, utilizing special equipment to help remove tartar and gunk from teeth, which in turn reduces or eliminates gingivitis and bacteria load. This can help maintain a healthy mouth in a way that is far, far superior to a cat never having a dental cleaning at all.
Kitty hasn’t had an exam in the past year? Signs of mouth problems? We’d love to see them!