Dental problems can cause your cat significant pain, leading to more severe conditions if left untreated. Today, our Eastham veterinary team explains how to spot dental health problems in your cat, common dental diseases in cats, and how to prevent or treat them.
Feline Dental 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 their oral structures are diseased or damaged, and stop functioning properly, your cat experiences pain, which will interfere with their ability to eat and communicate normally.
Not only that, the bacteria and infection that causes many oral health issues in cats won't just remain in your kitty's mouth. 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 impacts to their overall health and longevity of your feline friend.
Identifying Dental Health Issues In Cats
Different conditions will cause different symptoms, but 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
If you notice any of the above signs of dental disease in your cat, bring them to your Eastham vet as soon as possible for examinations. The sooner your cat's dental disease is diagnosed and treated the better for your cat's long-term health.
Common Cat Dental Diseases
While there is a wide range of health issues that can affect your cat's dental health, there are three particularly common conditions to watch for:
About 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 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 will cause a severe infection of your cat's gums, loose and missing teeth, and organ damage as the bacteria travels 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 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 refers to the gradual degrading 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 suffers from tooth resorption, the body starts breaking down the tooth's hard outer layer, loosening it and causing pain. This destruction occurs below your cat's gumline, making it challenging 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 be suffering from this condition.
Prevention Of Dental Health Issues In Cats
The number one way to prevent your cat from developing dental problems is by routinely 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. At Eastham Veterinary Hospital, dental appointments are like taking your kitty for an appointment at the veterinary cat dentist.
To prevent oral health issues from developing in the first place, you should begin cleaning your cat's teeth and gums when they are still young, as it's easier to acclimatize a kitten to brushing and help them quickly adjust to the process. Every cat is unique, however – if your cat won't allow you to clean their teeth, dental treats and foods are also available to help you keep their 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.