When it comes to dental health, many pet owners are still behind the curve. Although more and more are checking in for yearly anesthetic dentals by their veterinarians, others are still hesitant to spend the money. Many of us find it difficult to keep up a toothbrushing routine. Whatever the reason, we need to remember that dental health is important. In fact, it’s probably more important to your cat’s overall health than you realize.
#1 – Bad Breath
While cats aren’t known for having the freshest breath of animals, they can really start knocking us out when it comes to poor dental health. One of the most overlooked signs of periodontal disease in cats is bad breath. Many owners assume that bad breath is something cats just naturally have. Again, while it’s not as fresh as ours might be, it’s definitely cause for concern if your cat’s breath is exceptionally terrible. Catching periodontal disease in the beginning is important and preventing it is even better.
#2 – Tooth & Gum Decay
Left untreated, periodontal disease will start to cause a lot of damage to your cat’s mouth. Plaque and tartar will begin to develop underneath the gum line, which begins to eat away and deteriorate the tooth and the tissue around it. This will eventually lead to gum decay, tooth loss and even abscesses. Even minor periodontal disease is painful to our cats, so severe progression can cause a lot of discomfort.
#3 – Systematic Changes
Outside of affecting your cat’s teeth and gums, dogs have also suffered from painful bone loss in the jaw because of severe periodontal disease. Further, studies have shown that periodontal disease doesn’t only affect your cat’s mouth. Microscopic changes are seen in the heart, liver and kidneys – all important parts of your cat’s body! This suggests that they may be at a higher risk for organ disease. In humans, poor dental health has also been shown to worsen the control of diabetes mellitus and even increase the risk for onset.
Dental health is important to the overall health and well-being of all of our cats. The best medicine is prevention, so keep brushing your cat’s teeth, offering dental treats and checking in with your veterinarian regularly. Making sure they your cat doesn’t begin to suffer this painful and potentially deadly disease will keep them both healthy and happy. None of us want our cats to be uncomfortable and we want to keep them as healthy as we can, so working towards excellent dental health should be a regular part of our lives.
Cover photo: Patricia Barden via Flickr