Did you know that the majority of pets aged three years or older already show symptoms of gum disease? Just like humans, pets benefit from regular dental cleanings. If you have never had your cat’s teeth cleaned before, it’s natural to have questions about what to expect. Below, our Las Vegas cat veterinarian at All About Cats Veterinary Hospital answers five of the most frequently asked questions about feline dental care.
#1: How do I know if my cat needs a dental cleaning?
Since your pet cannot brush his or her own teeth, every time your pet eats food or chews on something, tiny food particles and bacteria can build up along your pet’s gum line. While at-home care can help keep your cat’s teeth clean into between checkups, this is not a substitute for an annual dental cleaning.
#2: What are the symptoms of gum disease?
Gum disease occurs when plaque deposits along the gum line harden into tartar, pushing away the gums and creating pockets that are susceptible to bacterial infection. Gum disease is a common problem affecting cats as well as dogs. The most common symptoms of gum disease include swollen gums, bleeding, tooth loss and foul breath. Your cat may also be reluctant to eat hard food or to play with toys due to mouth pain. Since the early symptoms of gum disease are not always obvious, in general it is a good idea to have your cat’s gums and teeth checked every year as part of an annual oral health exam.
#3: Why is gum disease so dangerous for cats?
Gum disease is sometimes called a “silent disease” because it can cause serious damage to your cat’s mouth without any obvious warning signs being present until more advanced stages. As the disease progresses, your cat can suffer from eroded gums, missing teeth and jaw bone loss – all painful conditions that can have a serious impact on your cat’s quality of life. Worse, since gum disease creates “pockets” along the gum line, these pockets are susceptible to bacterial infections that may even enter the bloodstream, harming your cat’s internal organs.
#4: What happens during a pet dental exam?
During a cat dental exam, our cat veterinarian will first check your cat’s gums and teeth for signs of disease and decay. If initial inspection indicates dental disease, a full dental evaluation and cleaning will be recommended. This procedure is performed under general anesthesia in order to safely clean your cat’s teeth removing plaque and tartar build up from the gum line. We take dental X-rays of all the teeth to screen for disease hiding under the gum line. Finally, we will polish your cat’s teeth to resist future plaque deposits.
#5: How can I care for my pet’s teeth and gums at home?
The best way to care for your cat's teeth and gums is with regular brushing. Brushing your cat’s teeth even once per week can help reduce plaque build-up. If you are not sure how to brush your cat’s teeth, talk to our veterinarian about scheduling an in-office demo session. We will show you the proper technique for safely cleaning your cat's teeth.
For more information about pet dental care or to schedule an appointment, call us today at (702) 257-3222!