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Dental Care for your Cat

One of the most commonly overlooked areas of health care is dental care for your cat. The American Veterinary Dental Society reports that 70 % of cats show signs of oral disease by age three. Poor dental care for your cat can also lead to more serious health problems including heart, lung and kidney disease. Dental procedures are routinely performed in veterinary practices. Many veterinarians have taken additional dental training in order to better serve their pet clients. Veterinary dental specialists can be consulted if more serious issues are diagnosed.

In dental care for your cat, your veterinarian will look for developmental anomalies, amount of plaque and tartar buildup on the teeth, periodontal disease and oral tumors during routine annual examinations. If needed, dental cleanings will be conducted when the cat is under a short-lasting anesthetic to remove plaque and tartar especially below the gum line.

Your veterinarian is not the only one involved in dental care for your cat. You should feed your cat a nutritious food. Feeding dry cat food at least occasionally or using hard biscuit treats can act to help keep plaque off your cat’s teeth. There are some commercially available dental chews that claim to help to remove food debris and plaque. Regularly check for discolored teeth, swollen, red or bleeding gums, bad breath, broken and missing teeth, and growths.

You should also clean your cat’s teeth for proper dental care for your cat. If started gradually and with minimal stress, a kitten or even an older cat can be acclimated to having their teeth and gums cleaned. Snuggle the towel covered cat against your body. Firmly grasp your cat’s head and place your thumb on one side of the face and your fingers on the other. Make sure that you are not squeezing your cat’s neck and are not pushing on the lower jaw. Point your cat’s nose upward. This action will force open the cat’s mouth. Once the mouth is fully open, start with your finger dipped in tuna water and rub it over the teeth and gum. Make sure that you do not cause the cat to gag when trying to brush their teeth. The entire process should only take a minute or two. Once used to the finger, advance to a piece of gauze wrapped over the finger. If this works, then you can try to introduce a soft toothbrush and cat toothpaste. Never use a human tooth paste or even baking soda – these will cause stomach upset. Giving lots of praise and even treats during, before and after the process will leave a positive association.

Cats can live longer and healthier lives if dental care for your cat is included both at home and by your veterinarian.

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