We discussed how important your cat’s dental health is in preventing dental disease. Now let’s talk about dental home care, another incredibly important component of your cat’s dental health. Dental cleanings are one part, but without dental home care, your cat will likely need more frequent dental cleanings. There are many forms of home care that you can provide.
- Daily tooth brushing is the number one way to slow the progression of dental disease. Using a toothbrush or dental wipe provides mechanical removal of this plaque so that it cannot harden into tartar. It is best if you can brush your cat’s teeth daily as we know that plaque forms within twenty-four hours.
- Dental rinses are also options for slowing progression of dental disease. Dental rinses are formulated to reduce plaque and tartar formation.
- Dental chews and dental diets are a more passive way of reducing dental disease in your cat. Chews and diets are formulated so that the cat actually chews the kibble or treat, providing mechanical removal of the plaque. The thing here is that your cat actually has to chew the treat or kibble! If they swallow the piece whole, unfortunately this will not help your cat’s dental health.
In addition to the local disease and pain that dental disease can cause, it also has systemic effects. Dental disease has been shown to complicate kidney and liver disease and is linked to heart disease. It can also increase insulin resistance which contributes to diabetes and increase inflammation throughout the body. Taking care of your cat’s teeth not only helps their dental health but also can help many other disease processes they have present.
In summary, dental disease is incredibly common in cats with 70% having some sort of dental disease by age two. Taking care of your cat’s teeth at home through brushing, chews, treats, and rinses is the first step in slowing the progression of dental disease. However, once gingivitis develops, a dental cleaning under anesthesia is necessary to get your cat’s mouth back in good health. Talk to your veterinarian about what is the best course for your feline family. By taking care of your cat’s dental health, you can help keep your kitty healthy and happy!
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