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Common Cat Dental Problems

Our feline friends can develop dental conditions and diseases that cause them discomfort or pain. Learn about different types of dental diseases in cats, how to identify them, and ways to prevent them with the help of our Springfield vets.

Taking care of your cat's oral health is crucial to ensure its general well-being and happiness. Our feline companions rely on their mouths, teeth, and gums to eat and communicate, and when any of these structures are damaged or causing them pain, they may not be able to function properly.

This can result in discomfort and pain for your pet. Additionally, the bacteria and infections that cause many oral health issues can spread beyond your cat's mouth if left untreated. This can lead to infections in other parts of their body, causing damage to vital organs like their heart, liver, and kidneys, which can have severe consequences for their overall health.

Symptoms Of Dental Disease In Cats

Different oral health issues in cats can exhibit various symptoms. However, if you observe the following behaviors or symptoms, your cat might be suffering from dental disease. Some common symptoms of dental disease in cats are:

  • Bad breath (halitosis)
  • Excessive drooling
  • Weight loss
  • Difficulty with or slow eating
  • Missing or losing 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 Springfield vet as soon as possible for examinations. The sooner your cat's dental disease is diagnosed, the better.

Common Dental Problems in Cats

While a wide range of health issues can affect your cat's gums, teeth, and other oral structures, here are seven prevalent ones to watch out for.

1. Bad Breath (Halitosis)

Your cat could have unpleasant breath due to multiple issues affecting the oral cavity, ranging from gum disease to infections of the teeth, gums, or oral structures. Halitosis could also be an indication of an underlying systemic disease like diabetes or kidney disease.

2. Periodontal Disease

Did you know that around 70% of cats develop periodontal disease by the time they turn three? This disease is caused by bacteria found in plaque, which is the soft film of bacteria and food debris that accumulates on teeth throughout the day.

If your cat's teeth are not brushed regularly or cleaned, plaque will harden and transform into tartar below the gum line.

This can cause irritation and erosion of the supporting structures of your cat's teeth. If left untreated, periodontal disease can lead to severe gum infection, tooth loss, and damage to vital organs as the bacteria spreads throughout your pet's body.

3. Infection

Infections can occur in the oral cavity for various reasons, such as injury, foreign objects stuck in the mouth, teeth or gums, immune system issues, or other dental conditions.

Gum tissue infections can cause swelling and redness, while an infection confined to a particular area is called an abscess. This can be an excruciatingly painful condition, just like in humans. 

It is crucial to start treatment as soon as an abscess is diagnosed. The treatment usually involves extracting the infected tooth or performing a root canal and administering antibiotics and pain relief medication to treat the infection.

4. Stomatitis

Feline stomatitis is a painful inflammation and ulceration of your cat's gums, cheeks, and tongue that can cause sores to open up. While some breeds, like Persians and Himalayans, are more prone to developing this condition, any cat can be affected by it.

Cats suffering from stomatitis often experience extreme pain and reduced appetite, which can lead to malnourishment. Mild cases can be treated with at-home care, but severe cases require surgical intervention.

5. Fractured Teeth

Cats suffer relatively frequently from fractured teeth, especially at the tips of their fangs. Because the internal tooth pulp extends almost to the end of the tooth, even small fractures can expose the tooth's root and cause the cat no small amount of pain. 

Fractures can appear above or below the gum line, and affected teeth sometimes seem greyish. Fractures above the gumline are visible to the naked eye, though some fractures may extend below the gumline. Fractured teeth may also appear to be gray.

The appropriate treatment will depend on the severity of the fracture, which is why it's important to have your cat seen by a veterinary professional. Untended fractures can cause other issues like abscesses or infections. 

6. Tooth Resorption

Tooth resorption in cats is the slow deterioration of a tooth or multiple teeth in your cat's mouth. This is a relatively 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 gumline, so it can be quite challenging to detect without a dental X-ray. However, if your cat suddenly prefers soft foods or swallows its food without chewing, it may suffer from this condition.

7. Cancer

Oral cancer is one of the most commonly occurring feline cancers, potentially affecting the animal's gums, tongue, jawbone, lips, or palate. Cats afflicted with oral cancer may develop oral masses, facial swelling, drooling, loss of weight, sudden loss of teeth, and halitosis. 

Early detection is key to the best chance of treating oral cancer. Masses and other signs of cancer can be detected during routine dental cleanings and examinations, which is why taking your cat's preventive care seriously is important. 

Preventing Dental Disease In Cats

Just like humans, regular brushing and cleaning a cat's mouth is the number one way to prevent dental disease and other oral issues. Brushing or wiping away plaque before it can cause damage or infection can help keep your cat's teeth and gums healthy.

It is best to start cleaning your cat's teeth and gums when they are still a kitten, so they can quickly adjust to the process.

In addition to at-home brushing, taking your cat to the vet for dental checkups starting at one year of age can help prevent disease with professional cleanings and oral health treatments.

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.

If you are concerned about your cat's teeth, please make an appointment with our Noll Veterinary Hospital vets today.

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Noll Veterinary Hospital is accepting new patients! Our experienced vet and staff are passionate about the health of Springfield companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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