Cat dental tartar, also known as dental calculus, is a hard, yellow or brownish buildup that accumulates on a cat’s teeth over time. Tartar is a mixture of food particles, saliva, and bacteria that can stick to the teeth and form a hard substance. Over time, if left untreated, tartar buildup can lead to a host of dental problems, including tooth decay, gum disease, and bad breath.
Tartar buildup starts with the formation of plaque on the teeth. Plaque is a sticky film that forms on the teeth when food particles and bacteria mix with saliva. If not removed through regular brushing, the plaque can harden and become tartar within a matter of days.
Tartar is more difficult to remove than plaque and cannot be removed through regular brushing. Instead, it requires professional dental cleaning by a veterinarian. During a dental cleaning, the veterinarian will use specialized tools to remove the tartar buildup from the teeth, both above and below the gum line.
Dental tartar can have a significant impact on a cat’s overall health. When tartar is left untreated, it can lead to gum disease, which is a bacterial infection that affects the gums and the tissues that support the teeth. Gum disease can cause bleeding, inflammation, and pain in the mouth and can eventually lead to tooth loss. Additionally, the bacteria that cause gum disease can enter the bloodstream and cause health problems in other parts of the body, including the heart, liver, and kidneys.
Preventing tartar buildup in cats requires regular dental care, including regular brushing, dental chews and treats, water additives, feeding a dental diet, and regular dental checkups. If your cat already has tartar buildup on their teeth, it’s essential to have their teeth professionally cleaned by a veterinarian to prevent further dental problems and maintain good oral health.