Signs Your Cat is Due for a Dental Cleaning

Posted on: 28 March 2016

Cats are just as reliant on their teeth as their human owners, but they usually don't have the luxury of flossing and brushing twice a day to maintain a healthy mouth. Cat teeth cleanings are a form of periodic maintenance meant to both clean your pet's teeth and catch infections early, sparing you the expense of emergency dental work later on. But, how can you tell if your cat is due for a dental appointment? These four symptoms point to the early stages of dental disease in cats, and you should schedule an exam if you notice one or more of them in your pet. 

Your Cat's Breath Stinks

Cats' mouths are famously full of bacteria, but even if your cat dines on nothing but seafood, you shouldn't be overwhelmed by feline halitosis. Bad breath in cats is a sign of tooth decay and possibly a more extensive infection that may require veterinary attention to be resolved. If your cat yawning makes you cringe, it's time for a dental cleaning. 

Your Cat's Gums are Pale or Drawn

Humans are not the only species to suffer from gum disease; cats are susceptible as well. Brushing at home will help keep down the plaque that contributes to gum disease, but a professional cleaning will be needed if tartar has formed or the gum disease has already progressed significantly. If not treated, your cat's gum disease can lead to painful bleeding, weight loss and tooth loss, so don't hesitate to reverse the condition by any means possible.  

Your Cat's Teeth are Stained Brown

Tartar, or calculus, is plaque that has hardened and attached itself to your cat's teeth. Tartar can extend both above and below the gum line, and it indicates the sustained presence of plaque and bacteria that lead to cavities and gum disease. You can help prevent tartar buildup by brushing your cat's teeth at home or using treats designed with dental health in mind. Once it has formed, removing tartar usually requires sedation in cats, and it presents an excellent opportunity to also inspect the teeth for decay.

Your Cat's Eating Habits Change

One of the most pressing signs of dental disease is a sudden loss of appetite. Although other illnesses will need to be ruled out, this is often caused by a sore tooth or gums that discourage your cat from eating. Cats have a natural instinct to mask pain, so this may be your first indication that something is wrong. Try switching over to a soft, wet variety of food until you can visit your veterinarian. A quick cleaning may be all it takes to restore your cat's comfort and ensure that he or she will enjoy strong dental health for years to come.