ORAL HEALTH AND DENTAL DISEASE IN CATS
Home dental care is the most vital component in prevention and treatment of periodontal disease whereas brushing your cat’s teeth is probably the most effective way to reduce plaque. Brushing will prevent plaque, tartar formation and promote healthy gums, reduce bad breath and potentially prevent expensive surgeries in the future – daily or even twice daily brushing is highly recommended.
10 things you need to know about Dental Disease, Oral Care & Brushing
- Oral health issues and dental ailments are major problems affecting cats in the modern world.
- Dental disease begins prematurely in life! Early detection is key.
- Fractured teeth due to fighting, trauma, chewing on bones and road accidents are regularly detected in cats.
- Oral neoplasia – your cat’s mouth is a common site for cancer and without regular mouth checks, oral neoplasia can remain undetected.
- Brushing can start at any age – the earlier the easier to adopt to routine and daily brushing. Senior cats will need a slow and steady approach.
- Use of correct equipment for teeth brushing is essential part of home dental care – never use human dental products on your cat.
- The rule is 1 cat toothbrush per cat and 1 tube of animal toothpaste, toothpaste should NOT contain fluoride as it’s toxic if ingested.
- Post dental work – allow your cat’s mouth to heal for few days prior to reintroduction of brushing, especially if your cat had extractions.
- Establish a brushing routine – preferably same time each day. Ideally brushing should be done after mealtime or you may wish to give your cat its meal as a reward afterwards.
- Oral care is a lifelong commitment!
HOW TO MAKE TEETH BRUSHING FUN AT HOME
Step 1: For the first few days; build your cat’s trust by placing a small quantity of toothpaste on your finger and offer it to your cat. Initially use toothpaste on a finger or cotton bud and lightly apply under their lip to get your cat used to its mouth being touched.
Step 2: Approach your cat from behind to get a good grasp and make them feel safe. Place the palm of your hand on top towards the back of your cat’s head, use your thumb and second finger to grip around the cheek bone under the eyes. Carefully lift your cat’s head slightly up and then use your thumb to gently lift their upper lip. Use the thumb on your other hand to gently pull down your cat’s lower lip.
Step 3: Start brushing at the back teeth since they are usually the ones that are most tough to reach but are the most significant teeth to brush, they are typically less sensitive than the front teeth. Gradually work your way frontward until you reach the canine (fang) teeth.
Step 4: During brushing; move in small circular motions for approximately ten seconds each side but slowly increase the time to 30-45 seconds each side.
Step 5: You might notice some bleeding from the gingiva in the first few days. This bleeding isn’t painful and indicates there are areas of gingivitis. If the bleeding doesn’t subside, arrange to bring them to your vet clinic for a dental check-up.
Step 6: Reward your cat for good behaviour and co-operation with play-time and/or treats.
Consider utilising supplementary dental products if brushing is a bit of a challenge or isn’t an option. Mouthwashes, sprays, water additives, gels and chews (be wary of chews that don’t bend or break easily as they can fracture teeth) can aid with your cat’s overall dental hygiene.
Individual blogs and tips are based upon the opinions of the specific author, who retains full copyright. The material is not intended as medical advice, it’s intended as a sharing of knowledge and information. We are not veterinarians and do not diagnose any conditions, perform surgery or prescribe medications. We encourage you to make your own pet health care choices in collaboration with a certified pet health care professional.
Association, A. A. (2019). Dental Care Guidelines. Lakewood, CO, USA. Retrieved February 19, 2019, from https://www.aaha.org/pet_owner/aaha_guidelines/dental_care_guidelines.aspx
Council, V. O. (n.d.). Pet Dental Health Month. North America. Retrieved February 18, 2019, from http://www.vohc.org/pet_dental_health_month.html
Milella, L. (2015, February). Dental disease in cats 1. Tisbury, Wiltshire, UK: ISFM – International Cat Care. Retrieved February 07, 2019