Dental problems are capable of causing your cat significant pain and may lead to other oral health issues. Here, our Grayson 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 ability to eat properly and live a life without pain or discomfort is significantly influenced by their oral health. Your cat uses their mouth, teeth and gums to vocalize and eat, so when the structures in their smile are damaged and can't properly function, your cat will experience pain and have interference in their normal day-to-day activities.
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.
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:
- Visible tartar
- Excessive drooling
- Bad Breath (halitosis)
- Difficulty with or slow eating
- Weight loss
- Missing or loose teeth
- Pawing at their teeth or mouth
- Bleeding, swollen or noticeably red gums
If you notice any of the signs above, bring your cat in to your Grayson vet as soon as you cat for an exam. The sooner you are able to have your cat's dental disease or oral health issue diagnosed and treated, the better it is for your feline companion'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 is an infection caused by the bacteria found in plaque (the film of food debris, bacteria and bacteria waste products left behind on your teeth over the course of the day. if your cat's plaque isn't cleaned or brushed away, it will harden to for tartar that can extend below their gum line - impacting their gums and the roots of their teeth.
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 will cause 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 that are suffering from this condition are often in quite serious pain and will have reduced appetite because of that. In some causes, cats can even become malnourished since it is so painful for them to eat. if your cat develops only a mild case, at-home care may be enough to treat their condition, but more developed cases will require surgical treatment.
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 suffers from tooth resorption, their body will begin to break down the hard outer layer of their teeth, loosening them and causing pain. This destruction will occur below your cat's gums, 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 at all, they may be suffering from 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 of 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 All Creatures Veterinary Care are like taking your kitty for an appointment at the veterinary cat dentist.
In order to prevent oral health issues from developing in your cat in the first place, you should start by cleanings your cat's teeth and gums while they are still a kitten. This will help them to get used to the process. If your cat won't let you clean their teeth, dental treats and food are also available to help you to keep 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.