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Dental Disease in Cats

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Good dental health is important for your well-being, and it's very important for your cat's health, too.

What is dental disease?

It can be difficult to keep your cat's teeth clean, so dental health problems are very common.

In fact, research shows that at around the age of 2, 70% of cats have some sign of dental disease. Problems usually start with a buildup of sticky plaque that hardens to form tartar. If not removed, this can lead to gingivitis, a painful condition of inflamed gums, and eventually periodontal disease may develop. Cats may lose teeth and be prone to infections that may affect other organs in the body.

What causes dental disease?

Plaque, a colorless film on your cat's teeth, is the perpetrator of bad breath and gum disease. Because she doesn't brush her teeth like you do, this plaque can cause tartar buildup. The result is swelling, redness and inflammation of the gums - otherwise known as gingivitis. If not checked, your cat can develop periodontal disease, which can destroy the gums and tissue that support her teeth.

There are some factors that can contribute to dental health problems. These include:

Age: Dental disease is more common in older cats

Food: Feeding sticky cat foods can lead to a more rapid buildup of plaque.

Dental disease is preventable and treatable in most cats. It's surprisingly easy to keep your cat's teeth and gums clean and healthy. The first step is to ask your veterinarian about a professional prophylaxis to clean her teeth. Then talk to your veterinarian about brushing your cat's teeth regularly (yes this can be done at home with some cats).

Does my cat have dental disease?

If your cat has dental health problems, the first thing you'll notice is bad breath. If you notice any of the following, it could mean your cat has a dental problem. If you notice any of the following signs in your cat, contact your veterinarian for a complete examination.

  • Bad breath
  • Sore mouth
  • Difficulty eating
  • Loose teeth or tooth loss
  • Pawing or rubbing the mouth
  • Bleeding gums
  • Yellow or brown tartar on the teeth
  • Dribbling
Common signs of dental disease

IMPORTANT: Even if your cat isn't showing signs of oral health problems, it's worth asking your veterinarian for a dental checkup and advice on how to clean your cat's teeth to prevent problems in the future.

The importance of nutrition

The food your cat eats plays an important role in her overall health and well-being. Normal dry cat food provides a dental benefit for your cat because when she crunches on the kibbles, the moderate scraping action cleans her teeth. If your cat has the more serious symptoms of gingivitis, specially formulated cat foods are available which can do a much better job of cleaning her teeth than normal dry cat food.

Balanced nutrition is an essential part of an active, healthy lifestyle. If your cat has dental health problems, it's even more important to feed the right cat food. For accurate diagnosis and treatment options, always consult your veterinarian and ask them to recommend the best food for your cat's dental health.

Ask Your Veterinarian About Dental Health & Disease:

  1. Are there any foods I should avoid giving my cat because of her condition?
    • Ask how human food can affect your cat's health.
  2. Would you recommend a Hill's® Prescription Diet® cat food for my cat's dental health?
    • Ask about special nutritional concerns for your cat
    • How much / how often you should feed the recommended food to your cat
  3. How quickly should I expect to see signs of improvement in my cat's condition?
  4. Can you provide me with written instructions or a booklet on dental health & disease for my cat?
  5. What is the best way (email/phone) to reach you or your hospital if I have questions?
    • Ask if you need a follow-up appointment.
    • Ask if a reminder email or notice will be sent.