If you're a pet parent, it might be bewildering to learn that your cat is in need of dental care. Many pet parents overlook their pets' dental health, only to find out down the road that their pet has lost teeth or is in a great deal of pain due to decay. If you're unclear on why your cat needs regular dental cleanings and checkups, check out this guide.
Wild Cats and Domestic Cats Aren't The Same
Many pet parents think that cats don't need dental care because wild cats do just fine without it. To an extent, this is true, but the problem with this line of thought is that wild cats and domestic cats aren't the same.
Domestic cats typically eat a diet that's very different from their wild cousins. Instead of primarily eating meat, which contains nearly no carbohydrates or sugar, pet cats eat processed cat food. These foods tend to be full of carbs and sometimes contain sugars, which are what the bacteria responsible for tooth decay and gum disease rely upon to grow and spread.
In addition, cats who hunt their own meals and eat the remains of their prey frequently chew on bones. Gnawing on bone helps to scrape the teeth, removing some plaque and stimulating blood flow. Without this aid at home, pet cats are far more likely to experience tooth decay.
Unfortunately, cats are susceptible to more than just simple tooth decay. An odd disorder called tooth resorption can damage teeth, even if they are well taken care of.
Tooth resorption starts on the inside, so it's not obvious to pet parents, even if you regularly brush your cat's teeth. The body begins to break down the roots of the tooth, which is quite painful, and gradually destroys the tooth's pulp. If enough time passes, the tooth will eventually fall out. However, it's not a quick process, and cats can potentially suffer through tooth resorption for years before the tooth completely dies and falls out.
What to Expect
It should be clear by now that cats do indeed need regular dental care. If your cat has never had their teeth cleaned and examined, you don't need to worry. The process is very simple and easy under the skilled hands of a veterinarian.
Your veterinarian will perform a physical examination, checking for signs of tartar, tooth decay, and gum disease. If any problems are found, x-rays may be taken to determine if there's damage to the teeth that isn't visible to the eye. X-rays will catch tooth decay, bone loss, and tooth resorption, which makes them an invaluable tool.
If your cat has any problems, your veterinarian will work with you to treat the problem. This may involve surgery, antibiotics, or even tooth extraction. If your cat's overall dental health seems to be okay, a simple tooth cleaning will suffice.
Cats can suffer from many problems in their mouths that can go unnoticed by even the most vigilant pet parents. If you don't want your kitty to suffer unnecessary pain and discomfort, talk to a vet about scheduling a dental appointment.
For more information, talk to a company like Metzger Animal Hospital.