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Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Your cat's teeth, how to brush them, and about gum disease

Let's talk about dental care for your cat.

There has been much talk about how to prevent gum disease in your cat - giving strips of meat to chew on, dental treats, feeding dry food, dental liquid supplements to add to water. All those are good measures. However, recent research has proven that nothing beats preventing gum disease than brushing your cat's teeth.

There are two stages of gum disease. The first is gingivitis, which is a reversible inflammation of the gums. Basically you will see a red gumline, and possibly find your cat's lymph nodes swollen. There will be a fishy breath that's worse than usual. If this is not treated, it will develop into periodontitis which is the destruction of the structure of your cat's teeth and gums. It is irreversible, though treatable with antibiotics, surgery to remove decayed teeth, and during which also a thorough cleaning while under anaesthesia.

So to prevent having to put your cat through all that because periodontitis has occurred, prevent and treat gum disease when it is at or before the gingivitis stage.

All cats above 2 years of age, some even just over 1 year of age, will be susceptible to gum disease. Gingivitis is also evident when kittens are teething between 4 to 6 months of age but this kind of gingivitis subsides after the teething period.

When gingivitis has already occurred, your vet may prescribe a gel to apply on your cat's gum line or suggest scaling under anaesthesia. We also researched and checked with our vet whether the toothpaste we use for brushing our cats' teeth - C.E.T. toothpaste - will treat mild gingivitis and found that it does. So it would be good if you haven't already to try out C.E.T.'s line of dental care products. We started off with a starter kit.

In the end it all comes down to brushing your cat's teeth. Here we have recorded a video of us brushing our Scooter's teeth.

Scooter already had shown signs of gingivitis because we had slackened on our part and did not brush as regularly as we cat owners should. The good thing is we discovered it early and he is now having healthier gums - as long as we keep up the brushing! For him and our other 3 cats.

Go check your cat's gumline - is it red? If so, it is time to start a dental care regime that should include tooth-brushing. It won't be that fun, but it sure beats surgery and medication, and tooth loss! And as you can see in the video, C.E.T. toothpaste tastes nice, so you don't have to worry about your cat feeling yucky (like when you have to feed medicine, ugh).

Another point to note is that gum disease may also be a symptom of other illnesses. So when you bring your cat for his check-ups (annually, or 2 times a year for senior cats) do ask your vet to not only check your cat's teeth but also to see if there are any other symptoms that point to a more serious illness, especially if after brushing your cat's dental health does not seem to improve.

Happy brushing!