Veterinarians have been talking to cat caretakers about the importance of dental health and encouraging regular dental care for at least the past decade or two, and with good reason. The American Veterinary Dental Society estimates that 85% of cats over 3 years of age need dental care. The trouble is, dental cleanings seem expensive because cats require general anesthesia for the procedure. Although we humans understand why our mouths are being poked, prodded and scraped with pointy things, this is not true for cats. There is no doubt that general anesthesia does involve some risk. Here at Cat Hospital of Portland our anesthesia procedure is quite advanced and the risk and discomfort to your cat is minimal.
Did you also know?
1. Cats don’t naturally have horrible breathLet me start off by busting one of the ever-so-common feline myths: Even if a cat eats tuna every day, his breath should not smell bad. If your cat’s breath smells like something is rotting in his mouth, the odds are that he has an infection or tooth decay.
2. Dental disease is very painfulHave you ever had an abscessed tooth or serious gum disease? If so, you know it hurts! It hurts cats, too, but our feline friends are masters at hiding their pain. It’s an ingrained and instinctive survival technique. The only indication you may have of your cat’s pain is a change in temperament. Even with sore teeth and gums, a cat will still eat because hunger trumps pain –- until the pain gets too severe, that is.
3. Dental disease doesn’t just stay in your cat’s mouthAn infection that begins as gingivitis can progress to the point where your cat develops infections in the bones, lungs, and even the bloodstream itself. The cost of treating a life-threatening systemic infection is a lot higher than the cost of an annual dental cleaning.
4. Dental disease can complicate other diseasesDiabetic cats with dental disease, for example, suffer more than others because chronic oral infections make it difficult to keep blood sugar levels under control.
5. Dental disease can lead to other diseasesThe relationship or link between dental disease to systemic illnesses in animal has long been established. Dental disease increases the risk of serious illness such as infections of the heart and lungs, kidney disease, autoimmune diseases, arthritis, heart failure, and even cancer.