Kittens have 26 teeth, adult cats have 30 teeth, and most human adults have 32 teeth. Just as we need to visit the dentist, your cat needs to visit your veterinarian to get his teeth checked, too. Taking care of your cats teeth is the best way to ward off dental pain and disease.
How Should I Care for My Cat’s Teeth?
One of the best ways to care for your cat’s teeth at home is by brushing them – it is the gold standard in preventive dental home-care.
- Just as we must brush our own teeth on a regular basis to keep them healthy, regular brushing of your cat’s teeth improves the health of your cat’s teeth and gums as well.
- Many cats will allow you to brush their teeth if a routine is established early in life or slowly introduced.
- A variety of toothbrush styles are available for home brushing – try a variety to discover what is easiest for you and your cat. Important – if you use toothpaste, ensure it is made for cats – human toothpaste can be toxic to cats!
- Additionally, a variety of dental prescription and non-prescription diets, treats and toys, along with oral rinses, gels, sprays, and water additives have been developed. The Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC) provides a list of the specific products which meet certain standards for reducing the prevalence of plaque and calculus.
- Discuss your cat’s teeth with your veterinarian at your yearly preventive care check-up.
Dental Care at the Veterinarian’s Office
- Professional dental evaluations should be performed by your veterinarian every 6-12 months, and will involve a general examination while your cat is awake. A more comprehensive exam including intraoral x-rays, periodontal probing, cleaning, or surgical extractions will require anesthesia, but may not be necessary at each visit.
- More frequent dental examinations may be required if your cat has sever dental disease. Your veterinarian can help guide you through this process.
- You and your veterinarian can discuss what is found during the examination, treatment options, and a home-care routine.
Cause for Concern
You should seek professional dental care if your cat has:
- Painful areas around his mouth or he refuses to eat.
- Excessive drooling (ptyalism).
- Grinding teeth (bruxism): Many people describe this as their cat “chewing on a bone.”
- Abnormally red gums (gingivitis).
- Only chews on one side of his mouth, or drops food while eating.
- Tartar (hard deposits of material that forms on teeth at the gum line and contributes to dental decay if not regularly removed).
- A foul odor coming from his mouth (halitosis).
Please note: Cats are great at hiding dental pain! Some cats show NO signs of dental disease, when in fact they are in quite a bit of pain! This is another important reason to see your veterinarian for regular wellness visits.