Dental issues in your cat can lead to pain and other health issues. Our Mahopac veterinary team explains how to recognize dental health problems in your cat, what the most common dental diseases are in cats, and how they can be prevented.
Your Cat's Oral Health
Your cat's oral health is important to their overall wellbeing. Felines use their mouths, teeth, and gums to eat and vocalize, so when they experience an oral disease, the discomfort can lead to difficulty eating and communicating.
Bacterial infections in cats can also affect the health of the rest of the body. Left untreated, the bacteria from your cat's mouth can get into the bloodstream through the gums, damaging organs such as their kidneys, liver, and heart and leading to more serious impacts on the overall health and longevity of your feline friend.
How To Spot Dental Issues in Cats
Some of the most common symptoms of dental disease in cats 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 your cat displaying any of the above symptoms, seek veterinary care right away!
Common Cat Dental Diseases
There are 3 particularly common dental diseases in cats that owners should know about.
1. Periodontal Disease
Approximately 70% of all cats develop some form of periodontal disease by 3 years of age.
Periodontal disease occurs if your cat's plaque isn't regularly brushed away or cleaned, which leads to it hardening and forming tartar that extends below the gum.
When the bacteria gets trapped below your cat's gum line and against its 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 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 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 its stomatitis. But severe cases require surgical intervention.
3. Tooth Resorption
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, its body begins to break down its tooth's hard outer layer, loosening it and causing pain. This destruction occurs below your cat's gum line 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, it may be suffering from this condition.
Preventing Dental Issues in Cats
Daily brushing of your cat's teeth can help prevent all types of dental disease and limit chance of infection. Yearly dental appointments and cleanings at Mahopac Animal Hospital would be most beneficial to your kitty. Depending on your veterinarian's assessment, they might suggest that you bring your cat in for dental checkups more or less than that.
To prevent oral health issues from developing in the first place, you should begin cleaning your cat's teeth and gums while they are still a kitten and will be able to quickly adjust to the process. If your cat won't allow you to clean its 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.