Dental problems can be extremely painful for your cat and can exacerbate other health problems. Today, our Rabun County veterinary team discusses how to identify dental health problems in your cat, the most common dental diseases in cats, and how to prevent or treat these issues.
Your Cat's Oral Health
Oral health is critical to your cat's overall health and well-being. Because your cat's mouth, teeth, and gums are used to eat and vocalize, when their oral structures become diseased or damaged and cease to function properly, your cat will experience pain, impairing its ability to eat and communicate normally.
Additionally, the bacteria and infections that contribute to a variety of oral health problems in cats will not remain in your kitty's mouth. If left untreated, the infection and bacteria from your cat's mouth may spread throughout their body, causing damage to organs such as their kidneys, liver, and heart, as well as more serious effects on their overall health and longevity.
How To Spot Dental Diseases in Cats
While specific cat teeth problems symptoms vary by condition, if you notice any of the following behaviors or cat dental disease symptoms, your cat may have a problem.
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 Rabun County veterinarian as soon as possible if you notice any of the above signs of dental disease. The sooner you diagnose and treat your cat's dental disease, 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 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 infection is caused by bacteria found in plaque—the thin layer of bacteria and food debris that forms on teeth throughout the day. If your cat's plaque is not brushed away or cleaned regularly, it will harden and form tartar below the gum line.
When bacteria become trapped beneath your cat's gum line and against their teeth, they irritate and erode the structures that support your cat's teeth. Periodontal disease, if left untreated, will result in a severe infection of your cat's gums, loose and missing teeth, and organ damage as the bacteria spread throughout his or her 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 frequently in excruciating pain and have decreased appetites as a result. In some cases, cats will become malnourished as a result of the discomfort associated with eating. If your cat develops a mild case of stomatitis, at-home care may be sufficient to treat it. However, severe cases may necessitate surgical intervention.
In cats, tooth resorption refers to the gradual destruction of a tooth or multiple teeth in the mouth. This is a fairly common condition in cats, with up to three-quarters of middle-aged and older cats potentially affected.
When a cat develops tooth resorption, its body begins eroding the tooth's hard outer layer, loosening it and causing pain. Because this destruction occurs beneath your cat's gumline, it can be difficult to detect without a dental x-ray. However, if your cat develops an unexpected preference for soft foods or if they swallow their food whole, they may be suffering from this condition.
Preventing Teeth Problems in Cats
The most effective way to help prevent the development of cat tooth problems is to brush and clean your cat's mouth regularly. If plaque is brushed or wiped away before it can cause damage or infection, your cat's teeth and gums will have a much better chance of remaining healthy.
To help keep your cat's teeth healthy, bring your pet in once a year for a professional dental examination and cleaning.
To avoid developing oral health problems in the first place, you should begin cleaning your cat's teeth and gums while they are still young and easily adapt to the process. If your cat refuses to have its teeth cleaned, dental treats and foods are also available to assist you in keeping 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.