Just like us, our cats as well as dogs are subject to dental disease. Nearly half of our felines over three years of age have some type of dental problem. Almost 85 percent of these have gum problems which is about the same percentage as people. Cats should have regular dental care at home and periodic veterinary care as part of their healthcare regime. There are experts that believe proper dental care can prolong an animal’s life by as much as 20 percent.
Gum disease will begin with the formation of plaque. Plaque is a transparent fluid composed of bacteria that adheres to teeth. The bacteria eat away at the supportive gum tissue. If it is not removed, mineral salts present in saliva will form hard crusts, called tartar or calculus, over the plaque which in turn irritates the gums. At this point, you will see redness and swelling which is the start of gingivitis.
Neglected gingivitis will turn into periodontitis which is much more serious. Cats will start to develop progressive infection, inflammation, bone recession, the loss of small ligaments which bind the teeth to the gums and loose teeth. Bad breath is the most noticeable symptom of periodontitis. This chronic infection is not just localized to the mouth. There is danger of the bacteria spreading to other organs and areas in the body.
Another dental issue found in cats are cavities. These are known as feline odontoclastic resorptive lesions or neck lesions. The cavities will develop at the gum line and are usually preceded by tartar buildup. All types of cats are affected. Rather that being like a cavity that humans get, these are more of a reabsorption or breakdown of the tooth tissue. If left untreated, the tooth erosion will eventually reach the nerve and cause persistent pain. Tooth extraction is really the only option at this point.
To help prevent dental issues in your car remember that tooth brushing is one of the most important things you can do. Examine their teeth and gums monthly. Look for any swelling, redness and broken teeth. Check for bad breath. This will be one of the first signs of dental disease. Finally, regular dental checkup by your veterinarian is advised.