Thursday, February 12, 2009

It's Dental Health Month

~ Brush Those Pearly Whites ~

Did you know that 70% of cats over the age of 3 suffer from dental problems. Yikes! Did you also know it's the most common disease in cats, and studies confirm a strong relationship between the presence of dental disease and poor health.

Statistics such as these should alert us to the importance of good oral hygiene with our kitties. Believe it or not skipping your cats dental check ups could lead to.....heart, liver and kidney disease. It's difficult to imagine, but bad teeth can cause serious problems throughout a cat's body.

The physical signs can be as simple as bad breath. It's more than just a nuisance to you as Fluffy kisses you good morning, but a sign that something may be wrong. Along with inflamed and reddened or bleeding gums, a condition called gingivitis could be forming. At early sage sit is still reversible, but only if treated.

Just like us, if left untreated, gingivitis could lead to periodontitis or a breakdown of the teeth's supporting structures. Loss of teeth and pain are immediate problems, but the oral infection is likely allowing bacteria to enter and travel through the bloodstream to vital organs, such as the heart, liver and kidneys.

Dangerous and expensive in the long run, deferring a dental cleaning will only lead to a more expensive dental cleaning, extractions and other diseases later.


Proper care begins with your veterinarian. Physical signs of dental disease can be hard to detect, even when advanced. That is why it is important to have their teeth checked every six months by your veterinarian.

Routine dental cleanings are also very important if your vet detects tartar, calculus, gingivitis or periodontal disease. Using an ultrasonic scaler to remove the tartar and calculus build up the doctor will them examine every tooth looking for erosive lesions and gingival pockets. Some problems may not be visible by the naked eye so x-rays will be taken allowing us to see problems below the gum line to the root of the tooth. Possible extractions could be recommended.

Follow up and Home Care

In addition to seeing your vet every six months to assess your cat's teeth and overall health, dental care does not end there. There are multiple methods to 'try' depending on your finicky feline's personality and tolerance, not to mention your ability to provide treatment. Methods of cleaning include:
  1. Tooth Brushing ~ the single best method of cleaning your cat's teeth. For a helpful video on how to brush your cat's teeth click on the link. How to brush your cat's teeth
  2. Dental Diets ~ prescription diets such as Hill's t/d and Purina DH are proven to improve dental health
  3. Maxiguard OraZn Pet Oral Care and Maxiguard Oral Cleansing Gel ~ a gel that reduces the deposition of plaque, aid in the reduction of gum inflammation, and neutralizes mouth odors and a gel with Vitamin C added to help repair tissue
  4. Oravet Sealant ~ wax sealant applied at then end of dental treatment to outer surfaces of teeth creating an invisible barrier to fight off plaque and tartar
  5. Dental Chews ~ excercise you cat's teeth and my help reduce plaque
  6. Dental Rinses ~ contain chlorhexidine or xylitol to fight bacteria and reduce plaque build up
Ask your veterinarian about preventing about preventing dental disease today. Remember, being proactive can help prevent or reverse the effects of dental disease....and help prevent more expensive dental treatment later. Your cat will thank you and will be much happier and healthier!

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