Cats are prone to plaque and tartar formation on their teeth, just like people. They don’t indulge in recreational chewing the way dogs do, but may still suffer from broken teeth especially when the diseased tooth is weakened by resorbtive lesions, a type of feline cavity. Tartar and plaque buildup over time causes periodontal disease (Periodontitis is inflammation and infection of the ligaments and bones that support the teeth.) that can ultimately result in loss of teeth and also impact the health of the rest of the body.
Having periodontal disease is analogous to having an open wound. Oftentimes the gum tissue is no longer attached to the tooth, and the root and bone are exposed. When that happens, those clusters of bacteria travel through the bloodstream, and are filtered out at capillary beds. This process is called bacterial showering. The bacteria are predominantly filtered out in the liver and the kidneys, and can damage these organs. It can also lead to heart disease because of the bacteria-laden blood passing over the valves of the heart.
Believe it or not, you can brush your cat’s teeth. Toothpaste specially designed for cats is readily available in flavors they’ll enjoy. Do NOT try to brush your cat’s teeth with “people” toothpaste; if fluoride toothpaste is ingested it can make your cat severely ill. Once your cat is used to the flavor of the “kitty toothpaste,” you can cradle your cat from behind, cup his chin, and lift up his lip to clean his teeth using either your gauze covered finger or a kitty toothbrush.