The health of a cat's teeth and gums are important to their oral health as well as the health of their whole body. In this post, our Babcock Ranch vets share the most common dental problems in cats and how to avoid them.
Your Cat's Oral Health
Damaged teeth or gums lead to pain, which can interfere with your cat's ability to eat and communicate. In severe cases of poor dental health, infection can spread on the gums, which can then get into the bloodstream and infect major organs like the kidneys, liver and heart.
In order to avoid these larger health impacts, cat owners should know of the common dental issues in cats and how to properly care for their kitty's oral health.
Cat Dental Disease Symptoms
The symptoms of each dental condition in cats vary depending on the disease, but there are some general signs to watch out for.
If you notice any of these dental symptoms in your cat, contact your veterinarian to get them diagnosed and treated right away.
- 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
Common Cat Dental Problems
There are 3 especially common oral diseases in cats.
1. Periodontal Disease
Approximately 70% of all cats will have developed some form of periodontal disease by the age of 3. Periodontal disease is an infection caused by a buildup of plaque, leading to tartar and gum recession.
When bacteria become trapped beneath your cat's gum line and against their teeth, it irritates and erodes the structures that support their 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 spreads throughout his body.
Feline stomatitis is the very painful swelling and ulceration of your cat's gums, cheeks, and tongue. While any cat can get stomatitis due to dental neglect, it is genetically more likely to occur in Himalayan and Persian cats.
Cats with stomatitis tend to have a decreased appetite due to the immense pain, which can even lead to malnourishment due to the severity. In a mild case, at-home care may be sufficient to treat their stomatitis. Severe cases, on the other hand, necessitate surgical intervention. Consult your veterinarian to be sure!
3. Tooth Resorption
Tooth resorption in cats is the gradual loss of one or more teeth over time. Cats are prone to this condition as more than half of the senior cat population tend to have some or most teeth missing.
The tooth breaks down during tooth resorption, causing damage and pain under the gums. If your cat suddenly starts eating only soft foods or gobbles them up whole without chewing, they may have this disease.
Preventing Dental Disease in Cats
The best way to avoid dental issues is to clean your cat's teeth regularly. If plaque is brushed or wiped away before it can cause damage or infection, your kitty will have a much better chance of avoiding dental disease.
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.