Dental problems can cause a lot of pain for your cat and lead to other health problems. Today, our Seymour veterinary team explains how to recognize dental health issues in your cat, the most common dental diseases in cats, and how to prevent or treat these issues.
Your Cat's Oral Health
Your cat's oral health is important to their overall health and wellbeing. Your cat uses their mouth, teeth, and gums to eat and vocalize, so when its oral structures are diseased or damaged, and stop functioning properly, your cat experiences pain, which will interfere with its ability to eat and communicate normally.
Furthermore, the bacteria and infections that cause many oral health problems in cats will not stay in your cat's mouth. If left untreated, the infection and bacteria from your cat's mouth may spread throughout their body, causing damage to organs like their kidneys, liver, and heart, as well as having a more serious impact on their overall health and longevity.
Cat Dental Disease Symptoms
Specific symptoms will differ between conditions, however, if you notice any of the following behaviors or symptoms, there is a chance that your cat is showing symptoms of a tooth problem.
Some of the most common symptoms of cat teeth problems can include:
- Bad Breath (halitosis)
- Excessive drooling
- Weight loss
- Difficulty with or slow eating
- Missing or loose teeth
- Visible tartar
- Bleeding, swollen, or noticeably red gums
- Pawing at their teeth or mouth
Bring your cat to your Seymour veterinarian as soon as possible if you notice any of the above signs of dental disease. The sooner your cat's dental disease is identified and treated, the better off he or she will be in the long run.
Common Cat Dental Diseases
While there is a wide range of health issues that can affect your cat's gums, teeth, and other oral structures, there are three particularly common conditions to watch out for.
Approximately 70% of all cats will develop some form of periodontal disease by the time they reach the age of 3.
This disease is an infection caused by bacteria found in plaque—the soft film of bacteria and food debris that builds up on teeth over the course of the day. If your cat's plaque isn't regularly brushed away or cleaned, it will harden and form tartar that extends below their gum life.
When bacteria become trapped beneath your cat's gum line and against their teeth, it irritates and erodes the structures that support their teeth. Periodontal disease, if left untreated, will result in a serious infection of your cat's gums, loose and missing teeth, and organ damage as the bacteria spreads throughout his body.
Feline stomatitis is an incredibly painful inflammation and ulceration—opening of sores—of your cat's gums, cheeks, and tongue.
Persians and Himalayans are predisposed to developing this condition but any cat can develop stomatitis.
Cats suffering from this condition are often in extreme pain and have reduced appetites because of that. In some cases, cats will become malnourished because it is so painful for them to eat. If your cat develops a mild case, at-home care might be enough to treat their stomatitis. But severe cases require surgical intervention.
Tooth resorption in cats describes the gradual destruction of a tooth or multiple teeth in your cat's mouth. This is a fairly common condition in cats, potentially affecting up to three-quarters of middle-aged and older cats.
When a cat has tooth resorption, the body starts to break down the hard outer layer of the tooth, loosening it and causing pain. Without a dental x-ray, this destruction occurs below your cat's gum line, making it difficult to detect. This condition may be present if your cat suddenly develops a preference for soft foods or swallows their food without chewing.
Preventing Dental Issues in Cats
The absolute best way to help prevent the development of dental problems with your cat's teeth is routine brushing and cleaning your cat's mouth. Your cat's teeth and gums will have a much better chance of remaining healthy if plaque is brushed or wiped away before it can cause damage or infection.
To help keep your kitty's teeth in tip-top condition bring your pet in for a professional dental examination and cleaning once a year. Dental appointments at Seymour Veterinary Hospital are like taking your kitty for an appointment at the veterinary cat dentist.
To avoid developing oral health issues in the first place, start brushing your cat's teeth and gums while they are still a kitten. They will quickly adjust to the process. If your cat refuses to have its teeth cleaned, dental treats and foods are available to assist you in keeping your cat's teeth healthy.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.