Do cats require regular dental care?
Cats are so wonderfully self-reliant, many of their human families assume that things like dental health simply take care of themselves. Unfortunately, this is not the case! Just like us, cats have oral bacteria and plaque formation that lead to dental tartar build-up, gingivitis (gum disease), tooth root abscesses, and loss of teeth. Simply eating dry kibble will not help keep the teeth clean — cats need help maintaining a healthy mouth. Feline Greenies Dental Treats are a great way to keep your cat’s teeth clean between trips to the dentist and cat oral dental kits are another great way to keep vet bills low.
Brushing your cat’s teeth regularly is the most effective method for plaque removal.
It is easiest to institute this program when your cat is a young and trainable kitten, but it’s never too late to start. Additionally, oral hygiene treats for cats and plaque removing water additives may help, but they should not be considered a substitute for brushing.
With or without a good home care program, cats also need periodic professional teeth cleaning. Your veterinarian can perform an oral examination, often as part of your cat’s routine check-up, and advise you when it is time for a cleaning. It is absolutely essential that this cleaning, along with any needed periodontal probing and dental x-rays, be performed under general anesthesia. It is unfair — not to mention unrealistic — to expect a cat to “hold still and open wide” the way you do at your dentist.
Additionally, many cats are susceptible to odontoclastic resorptive lesions (sometimes referred to as neck lesions, cervical line lesions, or feline caries). These painful lesions appear as erosions of the tooth enamel at the gum line, and are caused by the activity of cells that normally present to destroy the roots of baby (deciduous) teeth. It is not fully understood why these cells become active again in adult cats.
Unfortunately, in addition to the visible enamel lesion, this condition also involves the destruction and resorption of the tooth root, so effective treatment and relief of pain requires extraction of the affected tooth or teeth. Other serious feline oral health problems include stomatitis, oral cancers, and traumatic injuries to the teeth and jaw.