How Often Cat Teeth Cleaning
If you're like many people with pets, the idea that you might need to schedule an appointment at your vet to have your dog or cat's teeth professionally cleaned may come as quite a shock. After all, dogs and cats are usually taken care of by humans themselves, not professionals trained in veterinary medicine.
But just because we tend to groom our own pets doesn't mean they don't also require professional dental attention on occasion. In fact, brushing your pet's teeth is actually more important than brushing your own! It's just another reason why regular visits to the veterinarian are so essential.
Like humans, cats can get cavities and other oral diseases, which if left untreated can lead to pain, infections and even death. There's no way around this, but there are some things you can do to help prevent problems from occurring in the first place.
For example, make sure your cat has plenty of fresh water available at all times (including during mealtimes), and feed them foods low in carbohydrates such as raw meaty bones, liver and veggies. This will encourage bacteria-fighting saliva production in your furry friend.
In addition to proper diet and exercise, proper hygiene is crucial when keeping your cat healthy. You'll want to brush your cat's fur regularly, especially after playing outside, allowing the loose hair to collect dirt and debris. Brushing your cat's teeth once every three weeks is recommended by both veterinarians and experts at animal shelters.
If you notice any redness, swelling or discharge coming out of your cat's mouth, take it to your vet immediately. The same goes for changes in eating habits or behavior. So how often should you bring your cat into the vet for a checkup? Read on to learn about different types of tooth decay and what needs to happen to keep them under control.
How Often Should Your Cat Have its Teeth Cleaned
While most cats' mouths are pretty well-maintained through self-brushing and regular playtime with their owners, there are several conditions that could develop over time that require further inspection by a veterinarian. Some of these include:
Feline gingivitis – This condition occurs when plaque buildup causes tartar to form along your cat's gum line. Plaque forms when bacteria colonize between the teeth and enamel surface.
A dentist will typically use a special instrument to scrape off the hardened material, called a scalpel scraper, followed by a thorough scrubbing using a pumice stone to remove the loosened bits. Once the plaque is gone, your vet will then administer a topical antiseptic and antibiotic ointment.
Dental Calculus – Also known as tartar, this build-up of hard deposits can occur anywhere along the entire length of the tooth. Calculus formation begins as plaque accumulates between the teeth and around the edges of each tooth, eventually forming into hardened chunks.
Cats are especially prone to calculus due to their high frequency of snacking throughout the day. Dental calculus can cause serious damage to the teeth, leading to abscesses, infected wounds and even bone loss. Regular dental appointments can help ensure this problem never gets worse.
Tartar Removal Tools – These specialized instruments used by dentists to scrape away calculus can range greatly depending on the size of your pet's mouth and where the lesions are located. Smaller animals such as mice and rats only require basic tools, while larger animals such as dogs and cats often require additional equipment designed specifically for their size and shape.
Other common occurrences of periodontal disease include abscesses and swollen or inflamed gums caused by bacterial infections. These issues can become severe enough to require surgical intervention, including root planing, extraction and placement of artificial teeth. If your pet's gums look unhealthy, contact your vet immediately. Now that you know what types of dental trouble your cat may encounter, read on to find out how often to visit the vet.
Dogs and cats aren't alone in needing regular flossing. Horses, cows and sheep also rely on human beings to maintain their dental health. However, horses and cattle do experience problems related to their grazing environment, including poor nutrition, rough handling and parasites. Cows and goats are particularly susceptible to malodorous breath and bad mouthing, thanks to their habit of chewing grass. Sheep have been shown to suffer from halitosis due to their frequent licking and wool-producing activity.
Cleaning a Cat's Teeth FAQs
Most cats enjoy being brushed by their owners, but sometimes accidents happen. What happens if you accidentally hit your cat's eye or cheek with a bristled brush handle? Is it OK to wash your hands afterward without worrying about getting rid of germs? Get answers here.
Can I get my cat's teeth cleaner if he hates having his mouth washed?
It depends on the type of cat. Some felines, such as Siamese, Burmese and Orientals, are very tolerant of having their mouths thoroughly rinsed. Other cats, however, won't stand for any kind of fussiness, much less having their faces rubbed vigorously against their lips. In this case, try using a soft cloth instead of a wetted bristle brush. Just remember to avoid direct contact between your hand and the cat's eye area.
Is it safe to let my cat lick my face afterwards?
Yes, provided the cat isn't sick. Never allow your cat to lick open sores or cuts, and be careful if your cat already has fleas or ticks. If possible, wear gloves whenever you interact with your cat, since its saliva carries viruses and other infectious agents.
Can a cat's teeth get dirty from normal household activities?
Of course. Anything that makes contact with your cat's mouth can carry harmful bacteria. Toys, food bowls and litter boxes are especially problematic because they provide lots of opportunities for germs to accumulate. It's best to remove fecal matter promptly rather than letting it sit around for days.
Wash toys and liners in hot water, and change bedding frequently. Keep a separate box for your cat's "business" and dispose of it properly. Don't leave dirty dishes sitting around overnight, either. Use disposable plates, cups and utensils, and don't reuse cutlery. Finally, pay close attention to your cat during mealtime. Make sure everyone involved cleans up quickly after a snack.
Regular dental care helps ensure that your pet continues living a long, healthy life. While your cat's teeth are probably well cared for now, it's always good to review your pet's overall health with your vet every six months to a year. He or she will likely recommend dietary changes, vaccinations and deworming medications to help ward off future problems.