For at least a decade, veterinarians have been urging cat owners to provide their pets routine dental treatment and speak to them about the value of doing so. Cats need general anesthesia for the treatment, which makes cat tooth cleanings pricey. Unfortunately, people are hesitant to spend money on a procedure that may not seem required. Yes, cat dental cleanings can be pricey, but I believe they are completely worth the money for the following reasons.
1. Cats don’t have bad breath by nature
Does your cat have bad breath? She might have a dental disease. Photography by Martin Poole/Thinkstock.
Let me start off by busting one of the ever-so-common feline myths: Even if a cat eats tuna every day, his breath should not smell bad. If your cat’s breath smells like something is rotting in his mouth, the odds are that he has an infection or tooth decay.
2. Cat dental disease hurts a much
Have you ever had an abscessed tooth or serious gum disease? If so, you know it hurts! It hurts cats, too, but our cats are masters at hiding their pain. It’s an ingrained and instinctive survival technique. The only indication you may have of your cat’s pain is a change in temperament. Even with sore teeth and gums, a cat will still eat because hunger trumps pain — until the pain gets too severe, that is.
3. Dental illness is not limited to the mouth of your cat
An infection that begins as gingivitis can progress to the point where your cat develops infections in the bones, lungs and even the bloodstream itself. The cost of treating a life-threatening systemic infection is a lot higher than the cost of those annual cat teeth cleanings. Popular Read: Why Does My Cat Scratch The Sides Of The Litter Box? – Simple Explanation
4. Cat dental issues can make other ailments worse
Diabetic cats with dental disease, for example, suffer more than others because chronic oral infections make it difficult to keep blood sugar levels under control.
5. Cat dental disease can result in further ailments
Research has shown that dental disease increases the risk of diabetes, infections of the heart and lungs, kidney disease, autoimmune diseases, arthritis, heart failur and even cancer.
Some concluding remarks on cat dental problems and cleanings
This isn’t hyperbole or hysteria. I personally know several people who have become seriously ill and almost died due to untreated dental disease. As I think back on the cats with whom I’ve shared my life — like the cat who “lost a fang” and probably was in excruciating pain due to root exposure, although I didn’t know it at the time; and my FIV-positive cat, Castor, who developed severe mouth infections as his disease progressed — I’m almost certain dental problems contributed to or exacerbated their other health problems.
While I’m on the subject of cat dental cleanings, I’m going to offer my two cents on anesthesia-free dentistry. Although we humans understand why our mouths are being poked, prodded and scraped with pointy things, this is not true for cats. I can’t even imagine how anesthesia-free dental cleaning can effectively remove plaque and tartar from a writhing, clawing, freaked-out feline’s mouth, and the process of being restrained while all this stuff is going on must be incredibly traumatic.
Yes, anesthesia has risks. Yes, a cat dental cleaning done under general anesthesia is more expensive than an anesthesia-free one. But in the long run, I believe the benefits of effective cat dental cleanings outweigh the risk of anesthesia — and I hope you take this seriously, because I am painfully aware of the reality of that risk: I actually had a cat who died from complications of anesthesia.Popular Read: Why Does My Cat Scratch The Sides Of The Litter Box? – Simple Explanation