Monday, February 4, 2013

Monday Medical: Pet Dental Health Month

As you may have already heard, February is Pet Dental Health Month.

Did you know that many experts believe dental disease is the number one disease seen by veterinarians? Almost all adult dogs and cats have some form of it.

Inflamed gums around fang & molars from plaque
Photo: Marco d'Itri via Creative Commons 2.0
Over 75% of cats who have their teeth cleaned suffer from tooth resorption and over 80% of dogs over age 5 have periodontal disease. And tartar buildup is common to both.

Why cats are prone to tooth resorption while dogs are more impacted by periodontal disease is a mystery.

Tooth resorption sounds almost like an autoimmune disease: the cat’s own cells attack and wear away at his tooth until it is destroyed. The cause is unknown.

Periodontal disease in pets is the same as it is in humans: inflammation around the tooth where the gums pull away and form infected pockets that begin to break down the bone and connective tissue that holds teeth in place.

Needless to say…both are bad for your pet!

There’s this odd phenomenon that occurs when talking about tooth care – and it happens to both humans and pets. People tend to place less importance on dental care than they do basic medical care.

Why is this so? It’s odd, but we tend to forget that our mouth is connected to our body. Most people don’t consider that bacteria thriving in tooth decay can enter the bloodstream and infect critical organs such as the heart, liver or kidneys.

That’s true both for people and for pets.

In older cats especially, oral infections can have a damaging impact on the kidneys. And by the way, renal failure (kidney disease)? It's irreversible. Unlike humans, dialysis is not readily available as a treatment option for failing kidneys, and it's very difficult to administer. And though there have been successful kidney transplants in cats, it's expensive and comes with its own set of complications. Bottom line: help keep your cat's kidneys healthy by keeping his teeth healthy.

Good dental care isn’t that difficult if approached properly, and Dr. Jean Hofve of Little Big Cat has outlined a good five-step plan to get your cat used to daily brushing that works – if you commit to sticking with it. And there are additives you can put in your pet's drinking water that help fight plaque and are Veterinary Oral Health Care approved.

In addition, annual (and depending on the breed, sometimes twice-annual) professional cleaning can work to prevent major dental catastrophes down the line as your pet ages.

Have you ever scheduled a dental cleaning for your pet? Now might be an excellent time to do so, as many veterinarians offer discounts on routine cleaning during February, in honor of Pet Dental Heath Month.

Ours does, and Faraday and Maxwell both have appointments this month.

Next week: One DVM goes
dental (that's dental, not mental!)

over your pets and their teeth. 


Little Big Cat: Dentistry for Cats
Animal Medical Center: Dentistry
Trupanion Insurance: Breeds that commonly suffer Respiratory Distress
Ped Meds Online: Tonkinese Health Issues
Underlying Causes of Tooth Resorption
National Institutes of Dental and Craniofacial Research: on peridontitis



  1. Very useful information. We wish we could have Pips' cleaned but she is too old. Have a marvelous Monday.
    Best wishes Molly

  2. FYI, your click to tweet is too long to tweet. I had to make a modification ;)

    You forgot the most important part of good dental health in kitties, keeping kitties from chewing on treat bottles and cracking their teeth. Jack broke two of his trying to chew his way through a plastic bottle of "cat vitamins" that are really quite tasty..

    1. Thanks Connie for the heads-up, it shoudl be fixed now.

      Mowzers, CRACKING teeth on treat bottles? We've never heard of that! Jack...!!

  3. Mommy brushes Whisky's teeth but she isn't sure about the 7 of us kitties. She has tried it with Cosmo and Ling which made them foam and eventually covered HER with foam. Hee hee. She does open our mouth to check our breath and teeth daily...

  4. Excellent post pals and one very close to my heart since I had to have all my toothies pulled after living with M & D for only 6 months. Yup - I'm toothless now and getting along just fine. I'm just happy my peeps got me to the anipal dentist in time to save my life. There were no options left but to pull the teeth after they found the stomotitis.

  5. Great post! Our mom is always worrying about our teefs. She didn't know about the stuff to put in water. Purrs from your friends at

  6. Fortunately, none of the vets I have seen have asked me to have a dental so far! Binga and Boodie both have had dentals. Oddly, my human has not seen a doctor in years, but she goes to the dentist twice a year without fail! She figures if she takes care of her dental health, she is at least doing something good for her overall health.

  7. Eric has been prone to gingivitis since he was 6 months old so we both get our teeth brushed every day. Dad usually does it and uses the old head from an electric toothbrush which we find better than a finger brush.

  8. Teeth are IMPAWTANT! We hope evrykitty has theirs checked and cleaned!

    BTW, we gave you an awardie...

  9. Thanks for the interesting information! I remember when vets used to wave their hands at bad teeth, but imagine what it feels like for humans to have a mouth full of bad teeth, and then think of your pets. So far these guys have been fine here, but I keep checking.

    1. We have the dogs' teeth cleaned without the use of anethesia so that we don't have to worry about putting them "under" every time their teeth are cleaned. We apply a gel to the cats' teeth daily ans so far everything looks good.Tulip, our foster had quite a few teeth extracted two summers ago poor baby.But she is much more comfortable now!

      the critters in the cottage xo

  10. That's lot of good information, and we know its true, but no one here likes the dentist! Our mom does have our teeth checked.

  11. Thanks for this article but I wish huMum hadn't read it as the mention ov V E T and dental check-up gives me shivers

  12. Sadly, tooth resorbtion is what Austin has got! The treatment he had didn't appear to work, which surprised the vet, so have to take him back this week! Thanks for the good info.

  13. The company my Aunt works for—Ark Naturals—makes a good additive. She says it actually works. Pop thinks the reason I stopped drinking water was because they started adding stuff the vet gave them. Bad teeth can lead to strokes in humans. It happened to something TW knows.


  14. I was very encouraged to find this site. The reason being that this is such an informative post.

  15. I just had my annual and my new vet said my toofies were still really good. No tartar build up...whew! Mom and Dad watch 'cuz they had a kitty before me who lost most of her toofies 'cuz they weren't always on top of their vet during visits


Coolio! A comment? For US?