Discover how to spot dental issues in your cat, learn about common cat dental problems, and learn how to prevent and treat them. Dental problems can hurt your cat and affect their overall health. Our Seattle vets are here to guide you.
Your Cat's Oral Health
Your cat's mouth is essential for their health and happiness. They use it for eating and making sounds, so when its oral structures are diseased or damaged and stop functioning properly, your cat experiences pain, which will interfere with its ability to eat and communicate normally.
Also, the bad stuff in their mouth, like germs and infections, can travel to other parts of their body if not taken care of. This can harm their kidneys, liver, and heart and make them sick for a longer time. So, keeping their mouth healthy is really important for your cat's overall well-being.
Cat Dental Disease Symptoms
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 showing symptoms of a tooth problem.
Some of the most common symptoms of cat teeth problems 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 Seattle veterinarian as soon as possible if you notice any of the above signs of dental disease. The sooner your cat's dental disease is identified and treated, the better off they will be in the long run.
Common Cat Dental Diseases
Your cat's gums, teeth, and mouth can be affected by various health problems. However, there are three common issues you should be aware of.
Did you know that about 70% of cats will have gum problems by the time they're 3 years old?
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 this happens, the bacteria under the gums can harm the support structures of your cat's teeth. If you don't treat it, periodontal disease can lead to severe gum infections, loose or missing teeth, and even damage to your cat's organs as the bacteria can travel through their 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. However, severe cases require surgical intervention.
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 has tooth resorption, the body starts to break down the hard outer layer of the tooth, loosening it and causing pain. Without a dental x-ray, this destruction occurs below your cat's gum line, making it difficult to detect. This condition may be present if your cat suddenly develops a preference for soft foods or swallows their food without chewing.
Preventing Dental Issues in Cats
The best way to ensure your cat's dental health is by regularly brushing and cleaning their mouth. This helps prevent problems by removing plaque before it can harm their teeth and gums.
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 Cat Clinic of Seattle are like taking your kitty for an appointment at the veterinary cat dentist.
Start brushing your cat's teeth and gums when they're young to get them used to it. If they resist, you can use dental treats and special foods to help 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.