Many pet owners complain about their pet’s bad breath. Unfortunately, most cats don’t have their teeth cleaned so the most common cause of halitosis (bad breath) is caused by bad teeth.
The problem can range from mild gingivitis where the gums look red, to severe periodontitis where teeth are covered in brown tartar and there may even be tooth root abscesses.
Although our cats do not demonstrate dental pain like we do, there’s no doubt that they do get toothache. It’s surprising how much brighter and livelier a cat will become after a dental. Although it might not stop your cat eating, your cat will feel very uncomfortable with that dull ache.
Early dental problems can often be picked up by your vet when you take your cat in for its annual booster and health check. It is much easier to treat an early case of gingivitis by scaling and polishing the teeth rather than wait until your cat has severe dental disease resulting in a much longer anaesthetic to remove teeth.
After having a dental, your vet can recommend a food that you can feed your cat to help keep your cat’s teeth clean. Dental diets are available for cats, specially formulated to act like a toothbrush to help prevent tartar build up. Provided it is fed at least as part of your cat’s daily diet, it does help keep the teeth clean without you having to brush them.
If the teeth have severe gingivitis or a deeper infection it is important that your cat has a dental as a matter of urgency. The infected gums provide a source of bacteria, which can get into the bloodstream. Once in the blood, these bacteria can deposit in major organs such as the kidney, liver and heart valves.
As with most things, prevention is better than cure. Regular check-ups and a diet consisting of chews and biscuits help keep the tartar away.