You and your cat share some major features. Why is it that you have to go to the family dentist, like Richard L. Myers, DDS, once or twice a year and your cat can avoid it altogether? Dental disease is not a big problem in cats but is often one in people. The differences between you and your cat emphasize why you need to see your dentist more often than your cat.
Your cat and its larger, wild cousins are all primarily meat eaters. The large canines in the cat's mouth are for tearing large chunks of food out of prey, then swallowing the chunks whole. They chew their food very little.
Your teeth and digestive system are designed for tearing food into small bites, and chewing each bite several times before swallowing. This chewing action creates smaller food particles than can become wedged in between teeth. This leaves you more open to plaque and tartar build-up on your teeth, the major cause of tooth decay and gum disease.
A good cat food contains animal protein and a little grain. Manufacturers of pet foods don't have to add sugars and salt to improve the taste. Consequently, your cat doesn't have to worry about sugar causing tooth decay. Your cat also gets the same food every day. Wet or dry, your cat prefers consistency in their diet.
You, however, prefer a variety of food types and items. Many of your foods have additives that make them more appealing. Sugar and salt are added to processed foods to make them tasty and increase their shelf life. They also increase your risk of dental disease with these foods.
Your cat doesn't have bowls of candy and bags of chips laying around for snacking. They rarely have between-meal treats, unless you free feed dry food. If your cat has a snack, it is probably a special cat treat that you give them for being a good kitty.
You can snack all day on foods that aren't good for your teeth. Many snack foods are high in sugars and salts and you can reach out any time of the day for a handful.
Cats don't smoke. Period.
The National Institutes of Health says that smoking is one of the major causes of dental disease for people. The smoke can cause erosion of tooth enamel and inflammation of gums and other soft tissues. Smoking is also a major cause of stained teeth.
While cats do react to stress in many ways, teeth grinding is a behavior they do only if they have a painful dental issue.
People who are under a lot of stress at work or home may grind their teeth, causing irritated gums and possible misalignment of the teeth. The stress also reduces the effectiveness of your immune system. A healthy immune system is important for fighting off the bacteria in your mouth that cause tooth decay.
You and your cat have many differences when it comes to dental health. You must be more disciplined about your dental care and aware of what you eat. Your cat's lifestyle prevents them from having frequent tooth and gum issues. Make sure your lifestyle isn't increasing your risk of dental problems.