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Posted on 12-07-2017

Cats and humans experience the same buildup of plaque that causes gum disease - but our pets can’t brush their own teeth

"The exact process that results in periodontal (gum) disease in humans affects our pets," says Brett Beckman, DVM, FAVD, DAVDC, DAAPM, a veterinary dentist practicing in Florida and Georgia.

The process is simple but merciless: Plaque, which is made of saliva, mouth cells, food, and other toxins, forms on your pet’s teeth just minutes after eating. If left untreated, the plaque builds up, leading to gum inflammation that can cause tissue decay. The decay will progress even deeper by creating inflamed pockets between gum and teeth. Left untreated, this infection will penetrate deep enough cause bone damage, resulting in the loss of your pet’s tooth - the ultimate end of periodontal disease.

2/3 of all cats over 3 years old suffer from periodontal disease

Periodontal disease begins as plaque buildup, progressing into gingivitis, an inflammation of the gums, before it turns into periodontal disease. However this process does not stop at your cat’s mouth. Because periodontal disease is caused by a bacterial infection, it can spread to your cat’s internal organs through the bloodstream. This can ultimately result in damage to your cat’s kidneys, liver and heart.  

But a cat owner almost never notices the chronic pain because our pets have evolved to hide it.

Their animal instincts urge them never to show a sign of weakness, not even to their owners. Your cat's mouth could have bleeding gums or abscessed teeth and your cat may still eat without flinching. That's why it's vital you do your part to maintain your pet's oral health.

The good news is, gum disease in pets is preventable before it happens and treatable even if it does

Periodontal disease happens in stages. Worst-case scenario, your pet’s mouth has sustained bone loss which means the tooth will have to be removed. However, long before this becomes necessary, there are some basic steps you can take to ensure that your pet’s teeth stay healthy and intact.

The best way to protect your pet from suffering any level of periodontal disease is to brush their teeth twice a day. Because pets experience the exact same buildup of plaque as humans, it makes sense that they should receive the same dental care. This includes scheduling regular cleanings and checkups to maintain your pet’s dental health. What can my vet do for my pet's dental health?

However, if your pet is already suffering from periodontal disease, if you bring them in for treatment before bone loss occurs, their teeth can be saved. Cleaning the periodontal pocket and affected areas and applying oral gel is effective to reattach the gum to the tooth before further damage occurs.

Next time you brush your teeth, remember that your cat is depending on you to do the same for them. Daily upkeep combined with regular oral checkups will save your pet from a degenerative oral disease that can be prevented by your loving care.

Schedule your cat's dental exam today >>

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