a healthy mouth makes a happy (and fed) kitty!
Same as humans, cats need regular care for their oral health. A mouth that smells decent, has solid teeth, and gums that don’t bleed at the slightest touch is a mouth that can handle the responsibility of getting food into the rest of the body. Otherwise eating becomes a pain, and when things become a pain, we stop doing them. It’s actually pretty common for cats to go through some kind of dental woes, according to Cornell University’s College of Veterinary Medicine, studies report that between 50 - 90% of cats older than four-years-old will experience dental problems, and the most common types of dental problems are preventable or treatable with proper care and close monitoring.
Gingivitis, periodontitis and tooth resorption make up the big bad three for dental diseases that affect cats, and they each have their special way of making eating uncomfortable - or unbearable - depending on how bad they get. Open wide, we’re getting a closer look at each of them (No pictures though — that’s gross)!
Photo by Ian Barbour via Flickr.
The Big Bad Three
Gingivitis happens when the gums around the teeth get inflamed (red, swollen, painful). The result comes from plaque buildup, a film that carries bacteria, on the teeth and starts above the line where the base meets the gum (aka the gingiva). If not brushed away regularly, the plaque starts creeping into where the gingiva meets the base of the tooth, and below to the subgingival region, where kitty’s immunity response could act up, causing swelling and redness. You’ll suspect that kitty might have gingivitis if they’re cautious around eating (when they do eat, expect to see weird head angles and a massive appreciation for soft food), stop eating, drool, and bad breath.
If not handled in time, gingivitis levels up to periodontitis, which at some point becomes irreversible. In periodontitis, the tissue that attaches the tooth to the underlying gums and bone get weaker from the disease-causing bacteria as well as the immunity response. Eventually the tissue weakens to the point where it’s not able to hold the tooth anymore, which causes tooth loss. Periodontitis is almost always the result of letting gingivitis go unchecked, so it’s really important to get to brushing kitty’s teeth ASAP. The signs for periodontitis are the same as gingivitis, so you’ll need to bring your furry one in to the vet for an X-ray of the head and jaw, which needs anesthesia.
Tooth resorption is when the tooth structure breaks down, starting from the inside and moving to other parts of the tooth. This is the most common form of tooth loss in cats and between 30 - 70% of cats go through the ordeal. So far, the cause of tooth resorption is unknown. What tooth resorption tends to look like is a pinkish color in the tooth at the line where the tooth meets the gums. By the time this shows up the tooth is definitely in bad shape. Tooth resorption can be very painful, so kitties going through this may not eat, turn their heads to the side when they do eat, and may be extra curmudgeon-y. In terms of treatment, the best your vet can do is help manage the pain until the tooth gets to the point where removing it becomes the best option.
what can i do?
Since brushing kitty’s teeth regularly (with a special toothbrush and toothpaste made for them — human toothpaste is not safe for cats!) is the best defense against dental problems, we totally get there are kitties out there who won’t let you anywhere near their mouth (and you have the scratch/bite marks to prove it). And if you happen to have trouble getting kitty to open wide, we have just the solution for you!
Scruffy Paws Scrub and Shine Dental Powder keeps kitty on top of their teeth game by gently removing plaque buildup from their teeth, all while going incognito into wet or dry food. Finally — a product that does the dirty work, without the hassle for you and kitty.
This product also works with doggos, the opportunity for good oral health abounds! Like all our Scruffy Paws products, the Scrub and Shine Dental Powder is made with natural ingredients that are known for tackling potential dental problems ahead of time,which include:
- Zinc: a hero ingredient in most dental products to help control plaque, reduce bad breath, and slow down calculus formation (aka tartar).
- Natural Zeolites: turns out these health gems slow down the growth of harmful bacteria.
- Yucca: the study we worked with found that a diet with yucca schidigera reduces the amount of bad breath- related sulfur compounds in dogs, leaving their breath smelling better for over 20 days.
Photo by John Morton via Flickr.
- Probiotics This ingredient gets thrown a lot in yogurt commercials, but the study we worked with found that when patients with dental problems were treated with a culture supernatant of a L. acidophilusstrain, almost every patient made significant gains in their recovery.
- E. faecium Slows down biofilm (the gross stuff before dental plaque, the really gross stuff).
- Cranberry powder Cranberry powder has the ability to fight disease-causing bacteria, and was a big help for patients with oral diseases like caries and periodontitis.
Still not sure? No problem. You can always find the studies we referenced in the Scientific Backing section of our product page, and we always use locally made ingredients from right here in the United States.
Now, get to scrubbing!
Photo by Rikki's Refuge via Flickr.
Writer. Pet Enthusiast. Ambivert.