Feline Dental Care
Tips for Purr-fect Feline Oral Health
Dental Health is Whole Body Health. Dental care is vital to the overall well-being and general health of our feline companions. Periodontal disease is one of the most common health conditions that affect cats. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), by three years of age over 70% of cats have signs of periodontal disease. Oral health is not just about keeping “kitty breath” at bay, as periodontal disease progresses it allows harmful bacteria to spread into your cat’s body. Kidney, liver, and heart health can all be profoundly affected by periodontal disease. A healthy mouth makes for a healthy cat. Our veterinary team will examine your cat’s mouth as a part of their routine visit and make recommendations based on what they find. Generally speaking, we recommend annual dental cleanings for adult cats, but this can vary based on the individual cat and the amount of home dental care done.
The Facts About FORLs
FORL stands for feline odontoclastic resorptive lesions, an unpleasant mouthful of words that every cat owner should be aware of. This dental condition is commonly seen in cats and is often compared to human cavities, but they’re quite different. FORLs are painful erosions that often occur at the tooth’s neck or below the gum line—and while the exact cause of them is unknown, some theories suggest that dietary factors, viral infections, or genetic predispositions might be contributors. Many cats show no overt signs of discomfort despite the pain these lesions can inflict. This is one of the reasons why regular dental cleanings and X-rays under anesthesia are vital, as a trained veterinarian can spot and diagnose FORLs in their early stages. Treatment usually involves extraction of the affected tooth as the lesions can’t be reversed.
Brushing your cat’s teeth might seem unconventional, and let’s be real—many cats simply won’t tolerate it. But if your cat will, it’s a crucial practice to ensure good oral health. To get started, introduce a cat-specific toothbrush and toothpaste to your feline friend gradually. Never use human toothpaste, as it can be toxic to animals. Instead, opt for enzymatic cat toothpaste, which is specially formulated to be safe and palatable for them. Introduce the process by letting your cat taste the toothpaste, then gradually move on to the brush. Make the sessions short and positive, rewarding your cat afterward. While daily brushing is ideal, even a few times a week can make a significant difference. Patience is key, as some cats may take longer to acclimate to this routine. Utilizing dental treats and water additives can also be an important part of your cat’s oral health. The Veterinary Oral Health Council is a good resource for oral care products.
A Trip to the Veterinary Dentist
During your cat’s dental procedure, the veterinarian will do a tooth-by-tooth examination and perform full mouth radiographs (x-rays). Our high-quality digital X-ray equipment enables our veterinarians to detect and address any issues before they become severe. After a thorough examination of both above and below the gum line, we will be able to determine if any problems are present in the mouth. This will allow us to design a treatment plan to care for any issues that were found. A thorough cleaning of the teeth will be done with an ultrasonic scaler and then the teeth will be polished—just like when you visit the dentist! General anesthesia is necessary for a dental procedure to allow for proper assessment, cleaning, and polishing of your cat’s teeth. The AVMA does not recommend “anesthesia-free” dental procedures.
If you have any questions or would like to schedule your cat’s dental exam or cleaning, give us a call today at (214) 826-4800.