Tartar in Cats: Everything You Need to Know

Tartar and dental disease are common in cats and can be difficult to detect. For best dental health, you should brush your cat’s teeth regularly. Sometimes a visit to the vet may be needed to clean properly.

What is tartar in cats?

Tartar is plaque – bacteria and coatings – that has been mineralized and calcified. This makes the plaque hard (tartar) and thus more difficult to remove with just a toothbrush. Tartar is common in cats and can eventually lead to major oral health problems. Severe cases of tartar should be treated by a veterinarian.

Hereditary factors contribute to the fact that some cats form tartar more easily than others.

Different types of tartar in cats

There are two different types of tartar that are more or less difficult to remove.

  • Supragingival tartar is also called salivary stone. It forms in a few days and can be seen as a white coating along the gum line. It spreads rapidly to the remaining tooth surfaces. Saliva stones can be kept in check with the help of regular toothbrushing.
  • Subgingival tartar, or serum stone, is the type of tartar that forms in pockets inside the gums. Serum stone takes longer to develop and is more difficult to remove, partly because it is hidden under the gums and partly because the tartar is harder against the tooth. This type of tartar has a darker color and harder texture than saliva stone. Because the tartar has formed pockets in the gums, it can be difficult to detect yourself. It is usually seen when the cat is anesthetized and examined by a veterinarian.

How is tartar in cats treated?

Lighter tartar can be prevented yourself with regular toothbrushing. If, on the other hand, the cat has more severe tartar problems, it needs to be treated at an animal clinic.

Before the treatment, the cat is anesthetized. The anesthesia is adapted to the cat’s general condition and age, and blood tests may be needed to find out if the cat has an increased risk of anesthesia. Ultrasound instruments are then used to remove the tartar.

The tooth surfaces are polished and gum pockets are examined and measured. A harder type of tartar is hidden in the gum pockets and it is important to remove it as well, to avoid the risk of poorer oral health.

This type of tooth cleaning is called professional tooth cleaning, abbreviated PTR.

The cat’s teeth x-ray to be able to detect any damage, rot or disease in the roots. Should the veterinarian discover additional dental problems that need to be remedied, you may need to book more visits to continue the treatment.

“Simply scraping off visible tartar is not enough as a treatment. Deep-lying tartar needs to be removed and the teeth x-rayed. ”

Prevent tartar in your cat yourself

The best way to prevent tartar is to brush your cat’s teeth regularly. Plaque forms quickly and preferably the teeth should be brushed once a day.

Brushing a cat’s teeth is not the easiest thing to do.

It takes a lot of training and patience, but the reward is good dental health and a good trust between you.

Feel free to start brushing your cat’s teeth as early as possible and try to make it a daily routine. Play with the toothbrush and let the kitten get acquainted with it. Then continue to train the cat to sit in the arms while the toothbrush approaches the mouth.

Do not hold it too tight or unnecessarily long – it can instead create feelings of discomfort and bad associations. Patience is the key: let go if the cat wants to leave and start again after a while or the next day. Also, do not forget to praise and reward the cat.

At animal clinics and pharmacies, there are special toothpastes and toothbrushes that are adapted for cats and that can facilitate toothbrushing. Some toothpastes are applied directly to the tooth row for the purpose of melting and mixing with the saliva.

However, the mechanical cleaning, toothbrushing, is needed to remove plaque and coating.

Always use special cat toothpaste without fluoride.

Fluoride is toxic, and because the cat swallows the toothpaste, regular use of fluoride can lead to disease.

Other problems in the oral cavity

Good dental and oral health is important for all our pets. Since they can not take care of their teeth themselves, it is essential that we as owners do our best to keep the oral cavity healthy. In addition to tartar, there are various dental diseases that can affect a cat.

Periodontitis (tooth loss)

Periodontitis, tooth loss, can affect the cat when it has tartar or plaque along the gum line. A common symptom of periodontitis is bleeding gums, and that the cat smells bad in the mouth. It can also be difficult for the cat to chew as the condition can cause pain in the oral cavity. Here you can read more about periodontitis.

Inflammation and other dental problems in cats

Inflammation can cause pain in the mouth. In cats, stomatitis occurs as a consequence of tartar or as a precursor to periodontal disease (periodontitis). They can also get inflammation of the oral mucosa in connection with a viral infection, which causes pain and eating difficulties for the cat, but heals on its own.

It sometimes happens that young cats suffer from so-called juvenile stomatitis, a painful inflammation in the mouth, whose background is complex.

Tooth Resorption, TR

Dental resorption – often called TR, formerly FORL – is a chronic dental disease that can cause a lot of pain. The disease means that the tooth and tooth root are broken down from the inside, and nerves and blood vessels are eventually exposed. If the cat suffers from TR, the best treatment is extraction of affected teeth. There is no cure once the degradation process has started. To detect the disease in time and reduce the risk of unnecessary pain, it is good to regularly check the cat’s teeth with a veterinarian.

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