We know…your cats totally hate getting their teeth brushed, and it’s way too easy to put off a call to the vet to make that dental appointment. But neglecting your cat’s dental care can have serious consequences for your cat’s health (major tooth loss) and your wallet (major cash loss) down the road. Here are just a few sad but true facts about the cost of ignoring your cat’s dental health:
- Studies show that over 40% of all cats have some form of oral disease. Most cats don’t receive enough dental care (home tooth brushing and cleanings at the vet), especially in their younger years.
- As in humans, the accumulation of bacteria and food particles leads to plaque formation on your cat’s teeth. A harder material called tartar forms if the plaque is not removed. The buildup of plaque and tartar leads to gum inflammation called gingivitis. The final stage is periodontal disease, which can be very serious.
- Periodontal disease causes mouth pain and infection, as well as tooth loss. Periodontal disease also makes your cat’s gums recede, which lets oral bacteria into the bloodstream, and it then can travel to other parts of the body, causing major health problems
- There is a strong link between oral disease and serious feline infectious diseases. In fact, one study found that 14% of cats with oral disease were also found to test positive for FIV and FeLV. Access to the outdoors and other cats increases this risk.
- You can brush your cat’s teeth with a toothbrush and toothpaste especially made for cats. You can use a tiny, human-style brush, a special fingertip brush, or even just a piece of gauze wrapped around your finger.
- Did you know that a cat’s rough tongue is effective at scraping plaque off the back of the teeth? That’s good news because you can concentrate the brushing on the outer surfaces of the teeth.
- Visit your vet for a feline dental treatment. Your cat will be placed under anesthesia, then your vet will perform a thorough exam to check the condition of teeth, gums, and other parts of the mouth. A normal cleaning involves the same descaling and polishing that humans get. If signs of disease are present, your vet may take X-rays, extract teeth, and administer antibiotics
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