Dental problems can cause a lot of pain for your cat and lead to other health problems. Today, our San Gabriel 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.
Additionally, the germs and infections that lead to a variety of feline oral health issues will not remain in your cat's mouth. Your cat's kidneys, liver, and heart could sustain damage from the infection and bacteria in their mouth, which could have a major effect on their general health and lifespan if left untreated.
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
If you see any of the above symptoms of dental disease in your cat, get it checked out by your San Gabriel veterinarian right away. Over time, your cat will fare better if the dental disease is detected and treated as soon as possible.
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.
Bacteria that gets lodged against your cat's teeth and beneath their gum line irritates and erodes the supporting tissues of their teeth. If periodontal disease is not treated, your cat may develop loose or missing teeth, a serious infection of his gums, and damage to his organs as a result of the bacteria spreading 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.
This condition frequently results in severe pain for cats, which in turn causes them to become less hungry. Because eating is so uncomfortable for cats, sometimes they will become malnourished. Treatment for your cat's stomatitis may only require at-home care if it manifests mildly. Surgery is necessary in severe cases, though.
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.
The hard outer layer of the tooth becomes loose and painful when a cat has tooth resorption because the body begins to break it down. This destruction happens below your cat's gum line, making it difficult to detect without a dental x-ray. Your cat may have this condition if they start eating soft foods or if they swallow their food whole without chewing.
Preventing Dental Issues in Cats
Regular brushing and mouth cleaning is the best way to help stop dental issues with your cat's teeth from developing. Remove plaque before it causes damage or infection, and your cat's teeth and gums will have a far better chance of staying healthy.
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 Temple City 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, 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.