Brushing a cat's mouth

Did you know that by the age of 3, most cats have some level of dental disease? Did you also know that dental disease is preventable with a good oral health care program, much of which consists of things you can do at home? It’s true, and yet, dental disease is the most common disease facing our pets today.

Dental disease means more than just bad breath and an unsightly smile. Left untreated, dental or periodontal disease can also lead to organ damage when bacteria gain entry into the bloodstream.

Avon Animal Hospital cares about your cat’s oral health. We are happy to provide complete oral health assessments and treatments including exams, dental radiographs, scaling and polishing (aka dental cleanings), dental extractions and a wide array of home care options such as dental diets.

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How often should I brush my cat’s teeth?

Daily brushing is the gold standard. Although cats are not small dogs, they too can be agreeable to having their teeth brushed if you start young, go slow and make it rewarding! It is widely recognized that despite best efforts, cats can be more challenging than dogs when it comes to oral health care. For this reason, there are many options to help support good oral health. Oral rinses and gels, water additives, treats and dental diets are all designed to supplement daily brushing. That way, even if you can only brush your kitty’s teeth every other day, you can still keep their pearly whites, pearly white! The sooner you start, the better, so be sure to pick up that brush and paste at your first kitten visit!

Why is oral and dental health important?

Dental health is essential in the prevention of oral disease, which can affect the quality of your pet’s life, cause pain and suffering and contribute to organ failure and other diseases.

What is involved in a dental cleaning procedure?

A dental cleaning or the Complete Oral Health Assessment and Treatment (COHAT) involves a general anesthetic, even for the most obliging cats. During your cat’s dental cleaning, we will perform a full oral exam. It involves a good look at all surfaces of the teeth, gum health and occlusion (how the teeth line up). Any noted abnormalities are recorded on a dental chart. Next, we assess the health of the teeth below the gumline, which requires dental x-rays. The mouths and teeth of many pets may appear reasonably healthy. However, diseases may be lurking below the gumline. A dental x-ray is necessary to discover this and ensure that your cat gets the treatment they need.

What are the signs of dental problems in cats?

It is important to understand that many cats are very skilled at hiding illness and will not show outward signs of dental diseases – just one more reason to ensure your cat receives their annual physical exam! Some signs to watch for are bad breath, excessive drooling, reduced appetite, dropping food when trying to eat, face rubbing or loose teeth.

Are some feline breeds more susceptible than others?

Breeds with smaller mouths (where the teeth are tightly situated), such as Persians, Exotic Shorthairs and Scottish Folds, are more susceptible to dental disease as the bacteria that leads to the development of the disease is more easily lodged between teeth and collects at a faster rate.

What is feline tooth resorption?

Humans and dogs get cavities, but cats do not. Cats do, however, suffer from tooth resorption. These very painful holes in a cat’s teeth were once called “neck lesions”. Tooth resorption/resorptive lesions are often visible at or above the surface of the gums. However, it can affect the canine teeth (the “fangs”) when it occurs at or below the gum line (where we can not see). Due to the very painful nature of this condition, it is important to speak with your veterinarian to determine the best course of action for your kitty.

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