Dental issues are fairly common among felines and can cause serious harm to your cat if left untreated. Our vets in Cumming talk about the most commonly seen forms of dental disease in cats and you can help prevent these teeth problems from happening.
Your Cat's Dental Health
Your cat uses their mouth in many different areas of their life. Whether it is communicating, eating, grooming or exploring their world, their mouths are used, so it's crucial that their teeth and mouth structures stay healthy.
On top of affecting their teeth and causing painful dental problems, the bacteria on your cat's teeth can actually leave their mouth. This bacteria can then circulate throughout your pet's body, 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.
While specific symptoms will depend on the condition that your cat is experiencing, there are a number of signs of dental disease in cats that are commonly seen such as:
- 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 spot any of the signs of dental disease listed above, please contact your Cumming vet right away to schedule your cat for a dental examination. The sooner your cat's dental disease is diagnosed and treated the better for your cat's long-term health.
What are the most commonly seen types of cat dental problems?
There are three tooth problems in cats that you should watch for in your pet. These are:
- 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 can cause 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 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 suffers from tooth resorption, their body begins to break down their tooth's hard outer layer, 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.
How can you help prevent dental disease in cats?
The absolute best way to help prevent the development of dental problems with your cat's teeth is to brush your cat's teeth regularly. 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. While this may seem far-fetched, if you begin the process while your feline friend is young it can become a normal and stress-free part of your cat's daily routine. If your cat won't tolerate you cleaning their teeth, dental treats and foods are also available to help you keep your cat's teeth healthy.
To keep your kitty's teeth in tip-top condition take your pet for a professional dental examination and cleaning once a year. Taking your kitty for a dental appointment is like taking your cat for a routine dentist appointment and will include a thorough examination of your cat's teeth as well as a deep cleaning and possibly even X-rays.
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.