Feline Dentistry - Tartar Control
What is tartar?
Tartar is the hardened form of plaque. Plaque is the substance that forms on teeth after a meal.
Tartar creates two problems for your pet. First, it promotes the growth and multiplication of bacteria. These bacteria can enter the bloodstream through the gums and infect various internal organs. This may lead to heart, kidney, and liver disease. Second, tartar can buildup on the tooth. As the tartar builds up it can damage the gums and allow bacteria to invade the bone and destroy the periodontal ligament. This leads to abscesses and loss of the tooth. Additionally in cats it may lead to destruction of the outer enamel layer of the tooth.
Can I prevent tartar formation on my pet's teeth?
Yes, first you should have your cat's teeth checked by your veterinarian. The veterinarian may recommend a dental scaling and polishing. (See article on Dental Disease) Your veterinarian may recommend the following procedures.
Feed dry food designed to reduce tartar formation. Prescription Diet was formulated for this purpose. The kibble is large so it must be chewed rather than swallowed whole. It also contains large particles of fiber that help scrape the plaque off the tooth.
Brushing your pet's teeth daily will also help keep the tartar away. Your veterinarian can provide you with special non foaming toothpaste that is flavored for pets. Not all cats will tolerate this.
Use a pet mouthwash or a spray designed to reduce bacteria in the mouth. Your veterinarian can provide this also.
The most important method is to have regular dental exams and have the pet's teeth cleaned before the tartar causes any damage to the teeth and gums. In some individuals this may need to be done every six to twelve months.