Every February, several veterinary groups, including The American Veterinary Medicine Association (AVMA) and the American Veterinary Dental Society (AVDS) designate the month as Pet Dental Health Month. During this time, the importance of regular dental care is emphasized.
While the official Pet Dental Health Month is drawing to a close this year, the effects of gingivitis and periodontal disease in cats can be so far-reaching it seems as though every month should be dedicated to dental health. According to the AVDS, 70% of cats show signs of oral disease by age three, and 85% of all adult pets have periodontal disease. Left untreated, harmful bacteria from the oral cavity can spread throughout the bloodstream to infect the heart, lungs, liver and kidneys.
Dental disease is the most common disease in cats, and studies confirm a strong relationship between the presence of dental disease and poor general health. Even though cats are very good at hiding any problems, dental disease is a painful condition. Left untreated, many pets suffer silently and age prematurely. As several of our recent Cases of the Week illustrate (see: Bianca; Tommy; Sweetheart), preventing and treating dental disease will keep your cat healthier and improve his quality of life.
Dental disease begins when a combination of food, bacteria and saliva combine to form plaque on the teeth. If plaque is not removed, it mineralizes and forms calculus. As plaque and calculus build up, they lead to gingivitis, an inflammation along the gum line. This is painful for your cat and encourages bacterial toxins to form along the gum. At this stage, gingivitis is reversible with professional dental cleaning and oral home care.
If gingivitis is untreated, there will be a progression to periodontal disease, a destructive process causing a breakdown of the supporting structure of the teeth. This will cause oral pain, loose teeth, and more severe oral infection. As periodontal disease progresses, the gums recede and become more permeable. This allows bacteria to enter and travel through the bloodstream leading to heart, liver, and kidney disease.
Whether your cat is a youngster with shiny white teeth or has advanced dental disease and halitosis, the combination of your good home care and our medical treatment will ensure a healthy mouth and body for your cat. Your cat will live a happier, more comfortable, and longer life.
The first step to ensuring your cat's dental health is a visit to your veterinarian for a thorough exam of the mouth and the entire body. If tartar, calculus, gingivitis, or periodontal disease is already present, your cat will need dental treatment. During the exam, home dental care will also be discussed. If the tartar and gingivitis is moderate to severe, a professional dental cleaning will be needed.
To perform a thorough, safe, and comfortable dental treatment, your cat must be anesthetized. In many cases, the veterinarian can only determine which teeth may have lesions and/or need extraction after the teeth are cleaned and dental xrays are reviewed.
Many cat owners are understandably concerned with having their cats anesthetized. While there is a slight risk with anesthesia, there is much greater likelihood that continued dental infection will adversely impact your cat's health and comfort. Healthy teeth are well worth the risk of general anesthesia. At Scottsdale Cat Clinic, your cat's safety and comfort are our primary concern during anesthesia. We use very safe anesthetic agents and monitor your cat closely throughout the procedure.
Please contact us if you would like more information about our dental care and cleanings. You may reach us by phone at 480.970.1175 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org