Although your cat is most likely used to eating its kibbles, gnawing on rubber mice, and your assortment of kitty treats, she still needs sharp, clean teeth and healthy gums. Damaged teeth, palate, tongue and gums can cause many health risks for our furry friends. Some traditional tooth-brushing and the few cat dental health tips below are all that’s needed to prevent and risks from possible poor dental health.
1. The Breath Test
Don’t be scared! One quick whiff! Your cat’s breath isn’t be the best smelling breath ever and it also shouldn’t be offensive. Digestive problems and gum infections like gingivitis can cause an extremely bad smell. If your cat has raunchy breath, take her to a vet for examination.
2. Lip Service
When your cat is facing you, gently push back her lips to see those pink, firm gums. If they are white, red, or even swollen, your cat may have a problem. The teeth should be white and free of any brown tartar. They should also not be loose or broken.
3. A Closer Look
These are problem indicators of cats’ mouths:
- Dark red line along the gums
- Red and swollen gums
- Ulcers on gums or tongue
- Loose teeth
- Difficulty chewing food
- Excessive drooling
- Excessive pawing at the mouth area
4. Dangerous Swelling
At any sign of inflammation, you should take your cat to the vet right away. If untreated, gum disease can develop, possibly leading to tooth loss or inability to eat. Inflammation can also be a sign of an internal problem like kidney disease or Feline Immunodeficiency Virus.
5. Tooth Decay
Bacteria and plaque-forming foods can cause a buildup on a cat’s teeth. Plaque hardens into tartar, gingivitis, receding gums, and tooth loss. Regular teeth cleanings are a preventative measure to keep these health risks from occurring.
6. Your Cat’s Tooth Brushing Kit
All you need are cotton swabs, a small toothbrush and a tube of toothpaste formulated for felines. Salt water works wonders too. Use your vet’s recommendation for brushing supplies and whatever you do, never use people toothpaste as it is unhealthy for your cat.
7. Brightening Those Fangs
Baby steps are key to brushing your cat’s teeth at home:
- First get your cat used to the idea of having her teeth brushed. Start by gently massaging gums with fingers and cotton swabs.
- After doing this a few times, put a tad bit of cat-formulated toothpaste on her lips to get her used to the taste.
- Next, introduce a toothbrush designed for cats. These are smaller than our toothbrushes and have softer bristles. If you can, get the kind that you can wear on your finger. They are handy for massaging gums.
- Finally, apply the toothpaste to her teeth for a gentle brushing.
- Getting a vet to examine her teeth before doing all of this can be helpful. A lot of cats have mild gingivitis and brushing too hard can hurt their gums.
8. Chew on This
Chew toys can satisfy a cat’s natural tendency to munch on things while making her teeth strong. They can also help floss, massage her gums, and scrape away soft tartar.
9. Diet for Healthy Teeth
If your cat has dental problems, ask your vet to recommend a kibble that keeps her teeth healthy and removes plaque buildup.
10. Know Your Mouth Disorders
- Gingivitis: This inflammation of the gums is mainly seen in older cats. It may start as a dark red line bordering the teeth. If untreated, gums may become sore and ulceration may occur.
- Periodontitis: If gingivitis invades the tooth socket, the tooth may become loose and an abscess may form.
- Stomatitis: This inflammation of the mouth lining may result from a foreign body in the mouth, a viral disease or dental problems. The cat will have difficulty eating and the inside of the mouth will appear red.
- Rodent Ulcer: A slowly enlarging sore or swelling on the upper lip.
- Salivary Cyst: If salivary glands or ducts that carry saliva to the mouth become blocked, a cyst may form under the tongue.
- Mouth Ulcers: Ulcers on a cat’s tongue and gums are sometimes caused by feline respiratory or kidney disease.