Tuesday, May 7, 2013

5 Reasons to Flip the Lip

If there was one thing that you could do- only once a month- that could prevent your cat from suffering constant pain, would you do it?  That is a silly question, right?  OK, here's the challenge.  It involves flipping up the lips, and taking a look at what is hiding behind the lips.  What I hope you see are shiny white amazingly healthy teeth and pink gums. But....

Here are 5 reasons why you should be FLIPPING the LIP :

DENTAL disease is COMMON in cats of any age.  A cat as young as 6 months old can suffer from red swollen painful gums.  This condition is called gingivitis and is reversible if caught early in its progression to periodontal disease.  Do you notice a smell from your cats mouth? -this is often the first sign that infection is starting below the gum line.  Mouth smell (or hallitosis) usually equals infection in a cat.  And infection equals pain.

You don't KNOW if there is a problem  unless you look!  Teeth crack, teeth fall out, teeth abscess, gums bleed, gums swell, gums become inflammed.  ALL of this happens behind the lips, where you can not easily see.  Your cat does not brush or floss daily.  So, very slowly plaque and tartar and infection will begin to develop... it is just a matter of time....Your cat should get an annual physical exam, but what about the other 11 months of the year?  Flip the Lip.

YOUR cat is NEVER too old to benefit from dental care.        Most cats by the time they are six years old would benefit from a teeth cleaning, which requires anesthesia. But as a cat ages, dental health becomes even more important.  Infection in the mouth can be transported thru the blood stream to major organs, like the kidneys or the  heart. As your cat ages, it is vital to prevent this from happening, by keeping their mouth disease free.

CATS don't stop eating if they have a tooth ache.  Even with tooth pain, your cat will still be hungry and will eat.  They may only chew on one side of their mouth.  They may swallow their food whole.  But, don't use eating as a sign that your cat is pain-free.  You need to be a dental detective!

CATS don't show pain with a tooth ache.    It is a fact that a painful cat does not cry or vocalize at all.  A painful cat may become less interactive, may hide, or may stop playing, or may appear perfectly normal to you.  So, this makes it very challenging to tell if your cat's mouth hurts.  Assume they WON'T tell you it hurts -you need to flip the lip and look for changes, redness or smell. 

Your cat deserves the very best care.  And as an owner, you are on the front line, so flip the lip at least monthly, for your cat's sake. They will LOVE you for it (if you follow a lip flip with a treat!)

As always. please feel free to share this information with your cat loving friends.
Dr. Maureen Flatley
Fox Valley Cat Clinic
Menasha, Wisconsin