Dental problems can be painful to your cat in addition to leading to other health issues. Today, our New Iberia veterinary team shares tips on spotting 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 oral health is crucial to their overall health and wellbeing. Your cat uses their mouth, teeth and gums to eat and communicate, so when the functions of their oral structures are affected by disease or damage, your cat experiences pain. This interferes with their ability to eat and vocalize normally.
Besides this, the bacteria and resulting 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.
Spotting Dental Issues In Cats
Specific symptoms will differ between conditions, but if you notice 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:
- Bad Breath (halitosis)
- Excessive drooling
- Weight loss
- Difficulty eating or slow eating
- Loose or missing teeth
- Visible tartar
- Bleeding, swollen or noticeably red gums
- Pawing at their teeth or mouth
If you notice any of the above signs of dental disease in your cat, bring them to your New Iberia vet as soon as possible for examinations. The sooner your cat's dental disease is diagnosed and treated 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 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 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 a severe infection of your cat's gums, loose and missing teeth, and organ damage as the bacteria spreads throughout your pet's body.
Feline stomatitis is a very painful inflammation and ulceration (opening of sores) of your cat's gums, cheeks and tongue.
Although any cat can develop stomatitis, Persians and Himalayans are predisposed to developing this condition.
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. But 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 suffers from tooth resorption, their body begins to break down the hard outer layer of the tooth, loosening it and causing pain. This destruction occurs below your cat's gumline 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, they may be suffering from this condition.
Preventing Dental Issues in Cats
The best way to help prevent dental problems from developing with your cat's teeth is by routinely brushing and cleaning 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 Hospital are like taking your kitty for an appointment at the veterinary cat dentist.
To prevent oral health issues from developing in the first place, you should start acclimating your cat to the process of having their teeth brushed as a kitten. If your cat won't allow you to clean their teeth, dental treats and foods are also available to help you 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.