Ask the expert.. Nov-Dec 2007

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Dr. K. G. Umesh (MVSc, MSc (UK)) is a Postgraduate in Clinical Medicine. He is working for WALTHAM as Regional Associate for South Asia.
Q. Do let me know about dental and oral care for kittens and cats.
– Dr. Preeti Rao
Dr. K. G. Umesh : Dental hygiene is important in cats. Plaque and dental calculus accumulate on teeth at the gumline and cause irritation that can predispose the animal to dental caries (often referred to as cervical line lesions or odontoclastic resorptive lesions) and periodontal disease. Periodontal disease is the number one oral disease in cats.  Gingivitis (inflammation of the gum tissues) may also occur secondary to plaque accumulation, although a chronic, unresponsive condition may indicate a more serious underlying disease such as that caused by feline leukemia virus, feline immunodeficiency virus, or calicivirus.
As plaque predisposes cats to develop periodontitis, its removal and control is the best form of defense. Cats should have their teeth professionally cleaned at least once a year. The procedure requires an overnight fast and general anesthesia.  Cleaning the teeth at home weekly with a cat toothbrush (or a gauze pad) and meat-based toothpaste is recommended. Do not use baking soda or human toothpaste in cats. Dry food like Whiskas and approved specific oral health snacks and diets may help reduce plaque accumulation.

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