Cat oral health and taking care of teeth is easy to forget! Cats are great at hiding discomfort, and they dislike anyone prying their mouth open, so this is an easy cat care area to forget about. Let's go over the basics of Maine Coon cat oral care.
There are common cat dental care issues, and some unusual ones. For example, our little girl Alice had an unusual condition where she was allergic to her own saliva.
She had to have a couple of teeth removed at a young age, just a few years old, before most of us start thinking about brushing our cat's teeth, gingivitis, inflamed gums, or dental cleanings.
On our visitor Q & A page about teeth and gums, readers share experiences with rodent ulcers, luekoplakia, stomatitis, and kitten teething issues.
The vast majority of the cat oral health issues we might encounter are similar to human dental care issues - gingivitis, tartar and cavities in cats. And these can be avoided in the same way we humans try to avoid them - by regularly brushing teeth.
Try getting a peek inside their mouth when you can. When cuddling and sleepy, lift their lips for a moment. Or, take a look when he or she has a big yawn, if possible.
Our beloved house cats come from ancestors who evolved to hide their pain, injury or discomfort from potential predators in the wild. So it's up to us to notice the subtler signs that something is amiss:
Some common dental and cat oral health problems, besides gingivitis (which can be combated with brushing) include:
Cat tooth resorption: the cause of tooth resorption in cats is still unknown. It's signs include bright or bleeding red gums, drooling and difficulty eating. The inner material of the tooth, dentin, erodes.
I was surprised to learn that it is estimated to affect nearly 3/4 of cats over 5 years old. It's very painful, and a cat will suffer in silence, so those annual exams are very important. Treatment involves removing the tooth.
Periodontitis: A form of gum disease in senior cats when the ligaments and tissue around the tooth recede, exposing the root. Another painful issue needing extraction.
Stomatisis: stomatisis is more common in cats that have FIV. It happens when bacteria spread throughout the mouth to the tissues in the cheeks and throat. Signs include redness in the tissues of the mouth and difficulty eating.
There's no better time than the present to start a brushing routine!
Judy in UK (South England) asks:
Cleaning Buddy's Teeth
Now Buddy is beginning to grow his adult teeth - here are my questions - I'd appreciate all the info I receive.
1. How long should I wait before starting a routine of cleaning his teeth?
2. What is the best way (for Buddy) for me to inspect and clean his his teeth?
3. How should I start?
I've a toothbrush and cat toothpaste at the ready. One of the cats where I work had two teeth out - staff don't have the time to clean them. It was a salutary lesson for me."
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There is quite a bit to learn when it comes to cat health, and cat oral health. As for the mechanics of how and when to brush cats teeth, it is thankfully simple!
1) How long to wait: There is no perfect time to start brushing a kitten's teeth; go ahead and start your oral hygiene rituals anytime!
The sooner you start brushing his teeth, the sooner he'll get trained to tolerate (and maybe even enjoy) it.
2) The best way to check Buddy's teeth; To get a good look inside his mouth simply slide a finger inside his mouth at the side. He'll let you have a quick look around. It's unlikely he'd have any areas of concern at his age (5 months) The next time you're at the vet, you'll see how he checks the teeth & gums.
3) How to start; just get that brush in there! You may not get much done the first few times, but he'll get used to it, and gradually you can have longer brushing sessions. It might help to place him on our lap or for you to sit on the floor "behind" him so he can't back up to slide away.
Some Maine Coon friends on the site have suggested great tips and tricks, such as having a treat handy, such as some catnip in their other hand for a reward and distraction during their cat's tooth brushing time.
Keeping Your Cat’s Mouth Healthy. (2018). Hillspet.Com. Retrieved October 15, 2021, from https://www.hillspet.com/cat-care/routine-care/cat-teeth-and-oral-care
Tooth Resorption in Cats. (2021). Vca_corporate. Retrieved October 15, 2021, from https://vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/tooth-resorption-in-cats