Disease of the oral cavity is the most common health problem treated in small animal clinics today. 85 percent of all cats and dogs over two years old have periodontal disease. Left untreated, this is now known to be a leading cause of heart disease in pets and in people. Bacterial from the mouth are reabsorbed into the blood. They travel to the heart, settle in the heart valves and cause heart disease. Bacteria from the mouth also increase the risk of liver and kidney disease. Fortunately, dental problems are both preventable and controllable.
* Bad breath.
* Red swollen gums.
* Dark, discolored teeth.
* Breed, genetics, age, diet, and general health all contribute to the prevalence and severity of gum disease. If your cat is having trouble eating, chews differently than normal, is reluctant to eat, or paws at his or her face, or drools excessively, the mouth may be the problem.
* Bacteria combine with saliva and food particles to form plaque. Plaque accumulates in the spaces between the teeth and gums, and combines with calcium salts to form tartar, which is also called calculus. The bacteria, plaque, and tartar irritate and inflame the gums, causing gum disease. Gingivitis is the medical term used for this condition.
WHAT YOU AND YOUR VET CAN DO
Dental home care is the single most important factor necessary to maintain dental health.
* For best results, begin brushing with your kitten. Use a feline toothbrush, or for kittens try a finger cot which fits onto your index finger. Use toothpaste formulated specifically for cats. For finicky felines, try clam or tuna juice initially.
* Human toothpaste contains sudsing agents and is not meant to be swallowed, it can cause stomach upset in pets.
* Pet toothpaste comes in chicken malt and liver flavors and is meant to be swallowed.
* Brush each of the four outer surfaces of the upper and lower teeth for 30 seconds at least three times a week to decrease bacteria and plaque formation.
* Dental sprays act as anti-plaque mouthwashes. These can also be swabbed onto the teeth with gauze or a Q-tip and are an alternative for pets adverse to brushing.
Feline dental treats are an option for cats that won’t tolerate brushing or rinses. They are freeze-dried pieces of fish treated with an enzymatic dentifrice which helps remove plaque. One treat daily is best for routine care at home.
* Neem (Azadirachtairidica) is an antibacterial herb that prevents bacteria from adhering to the tooth surfaces.
* Myrrh oral rinse (commiphora molol) mix three drops of myrrh tincture with 1/8 teaspoon salt and two ounces water. Bring to a boil, and then cool. Swab gums daily. Myrrh is an herb that is anti-bacteria.
* Herbal toothpastes for cats may contain sage oil which cleans the teeth and freshens breath.
* Goldenseal mouthwash (Hydrastis Canadensis) mix one teaspoon of powdered root stock into one pint water, bring to boil, cool, swab gums once daily.