Oral health issues can lead to a great deal of pain in your cat, as well as additional health problems. Here, our Pflugerville vets discuss some common cat dental problems, how to recognize them, and how you can help your kitty feel better.
Oral Health In Cats
Your cat's oral health is important to how they eat, communicate, and groom. If they have a dental disease that leads to oral pain, these processes are hindered, and their quality of life and bodily health are put at risk as a result.
In addition to this, the bacteria and infections that cause many oral health issues in cats won't just stay in the mouth. Left untreated the infection and bacteria from your cat's mouth may begin to circulate throughout their body, damaging organs such as the kidneys, liver, and heart, which could lead to more serious impacts on the overall health and longevity of your feline friend.
Signs of Cat Dental Problems
Common symptoms of dental issues in cats include:
- Bleeding, swollen, or noticeably red gums
- Bad Breath (halitosis)
- Visible tartar
- Missing or loose teeth
- Pawing at their teeth or mouth
- Excessive drooling
- Difficulty with or slow eating
- Weight loss
Have you noticed any of these signs in your cat? Contact your veterinarian right away!
Dental Diseases That Are Common In Cats
While there are various dental health issues that can affect a cat's teeth, gums, and other oral structures, there are three relatively common conditions you need to be aware of.
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 above and below the gum line.
When the bacteria gets trapped below your cat's gum line and against their teeth, it will begin to irritate and erode the structures supporting your kitty's teeth. If untreated, periodontal disease can result in serious gum infection, loose and missing teeth, and organ damage as the bacteria travels throughout your pet's body.
Feline stomatitis is a very 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 often suffer from extreme pain, and as a result, have reduced appetites. 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 is the gradual destruction of a tooth or multiple teeth in a cat's mouth. This is a relatively common issue in our feline companions, affecting approximately three-quarters of middle-aged and older cats.
When a cat suffers from tooth resorption, their body begins to break down their tooth's hard outer layer, loosening it and causing pain. This destruction occurs below your cat's gum line so it can be challenging to detect without a dental X-ray. However, if your cat suddenly develops a preference for soft foods or swallows their food without chewing, they may be suffering from this condition.
Preventing Cat Dental Problems
One of the best ways to help prevent your cat from developing dental problems is to brush their teeth routinely and keep your kitty's mouth clean. 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. When you bring your cat to Pfennig Lane Animal Hospital for a dental appointment it's like taking them to a dentist for a checkup.
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.