Dental care is crucial to prevent your cat from experiencing a number of oral health conditions, many of which can have serious complications. Here, our La Mesa vets discuss some of the most common types of dental disease in cats and how to protect your kitty's oral health.
Dental Diseases in Cats
When your cat experiences dental issues, it can cause serious pain and discomfort as well as lead to potentially serious complications. If you don't seek veterinary care at the first signs of s potential issue you risk your cat suffering through infections, tooth loss, and even systemic diseases that impact their internal organs.
Common Cat Dental Disease Symptoms
when a cat is experiencing teeth problems, some of the common symptoms may 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 symptoms that indicate cat tooth problems, please reach out to your vet right away to schedule a dental examination.
Cat Dental Problems
There are a number of serious conditions that can affect your cat's oral health. Some of the most commonly diagnosed are:
Periodontal Disease (Gum Disease in Cats)
Many cats will experience some form of gum disease by the time they are an adult. As many as 70% of cats do by the time they are 3 years of age.
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 line.
When the bacteria gets trapped below your cat's gum line it will begin to create pockets of infection between your cat's teeth and gums. If periodontal disease progresses to its advanced stage, it can result in loose or missing teeth.
Some cats may experience painful ulcers on their gums, cheeks, and tongue. This is referred to as feline stomatitis.
Some breeds, such as 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 that causes them to lose their 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.
Sometimes a cat's tooth will become damaged and their body will begin to break down the tooth from the inside until it is gone. This is a relatively common condition in cats, potentially affecting up to three-quarters of middle-aged and older cats.
It isn't known what causes tooth resorption, but unlike a cavity, it creates a lesion that cannot be filled. The resorption starts on the inside of the tooth and works its way outward toward the crown and tooth enamel.
Unfortunately, by the time most cases of tooth resorption are spotted, the tooth is dying and painful. The treatment recommendation for tooth resorption is typically surgical extraction of the affected tooth.
Ways to Prevent Dental Problems in Cats
You can easily help prevent serious oral health concerns in your cat with a little effort. Here are some preventive measures to keep in mind:
- Brushing your cat's teeth regularly using a pet-safe toothbrush and toothpaste can help prevent the buildup of plaque and tartar. Starting when your cat is young can help make brushing a normal part of their daily life.
- Providing dental treats and toys specifically designed to promote oral health can help reduce plaque and massage the gums. Be sure to ask your vet which dental treats they recommend.
- Feeding your cat a high-quality food that provides balanced nutrition can contribute to improved oral health. If your cat is showing signs of dental problems, ask your vet if a food formulated to help treat dental issues would be right for your feline family member.
Monitoring Cat Teeth Problems With Routine Visits
Routine veterinary checkups are crucial for monitoring your cat's dental health. During these visits, the veterinarian will examine your cat's mouth, and let you know whether professional teeth cleaning is necessary to address any developing dental issues. Regular check-ups ensure that dental problems are caught in their early stages, preventing them from developing into more serious conditions.
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.