Dental problems can cause your cat significant pain, and lead to other health issues. Today, our O’Fallon veterinary team explains how to spot dental health problems in your cat, what the most common dental diseases are in cats, and how these issues can be prevented or treated.
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.
Not only that but 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 begin to circulate throughout your pet's body, damaging organs such as their kidneys, liver, and heart and leading to more serious consequences for your feline friend's overall health and longevity.
How To Spot Dental Issues in Cats
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 suffering from dental disease.
Some of the most common symptoms of dental disease in cats 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 O’Fallon vet as soon as possible if you notice any of the above signs of dental disease. The sooner your cat's dental disease is diagnosed and treated, the better his long-term health will be.
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 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 accumulate beneath your cat's gum line and against their teeth, it begins to irritate and erode the structures that support your cat's teeth. Periodontal disease, if left untreated, will cause a severe infection of your cat's gums, loose and missing teeth, and organ damage as the bacteria spreads throughout your pet's 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 with this condition are frequently in excruciating pain and have decreased appetites as a result. Cats may become malnourished in some cases because eating is so painful for them. If your cat has a mild case, at-home care may be sufficient to treat their stomatitis. However, severe cases necessitate 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 begins to break down the hard outer layer of the tooth, loosening it and causing pain. This destruction occurs beneath your cat's gum line, making it difficult to detect without a dental x-ray. If your cat suddenly develops a preference for soft foods or swallows their food without chewing, they may have this condition.
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 Gentle Doctor Animal Hospital are like taking your kitty for an appointment at the veterinary cat dentist.
To avoid developing oral health issues in the first place, begin cleaning your cat's teeth and gums while they are still kittens and can quickly adjust to the process. If your cat refuses to let you clean its teeth, 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.