When cats are suffering from oral health issues they can be in a great deal of pain. These problems can also result in other health conditions. In this post, our Clackamas vets explain how you can recognize common dental health problems in cats and how you can prevent them.
Oral Health In Cats
The oral health of your cat is important to its overall health and well-being. Your cat uses their mouth, teeth, and gums to eat and vocalize, so when its oral structures are damaged, diseased, or/and stop functioning properly, your cat experiences pain, which will interfere with its ability to eat and communicate normally.
In addition to this, the bacteria and infections that cause many oral health issues in cats won't just stay in the mouth. Left untreated the infection and bacteria from your cat's mouth may begin to circulate throughout their body, damaging organs such as the kidneys, liver, and heart, which could lead to more serious impacts on the overall health and longevity of your feline friend.
Signs of Cat Dental Problems
While the specific symptoms will differ between conditions, if you notice your kitty exhibiting any of the following behaviors or symptoms, they may be suffering from dental disease.
Some of the most common symptoms of dental disease in cats can include:
- Bleeding, swollen, or noticeably red gums
- Bad Breath (halitosis)
- Visible tartar
- Missing or losing teeth
- Pawing at their teeth or mouth
- Excessive drooling
- Difficulty with or slow eating
- Weight loss
If you see your cat displaying any of the signs detailed above they could be suffering from a dental health condition, and you should take them to your Clackamas vet as quickly as possible for an examination. The sooner your cat's dental disease is diagnosed and treated the better for your cat's recovery and long-term health.
Dental Diseases That Are Common In Cats
While various dental health issues can affect a cat's teeth, gums, and other oral structures, there are three relatively common conditions you need to be aware of.
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 day. If your cat's plaque isn't regularly brushed away or cleaned, it will harden and form tartar above and below the gum line.
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 can result in serious gum infection, loose and missing teeth, and organ damage as the bacteria travels 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.
Persians and Himalayans are predisposed to developing this condition but any cat can develop stomatitis.
Cats with this condition often suffer from extreme pain, and as a result, have reduced appetites. 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.
Tooth resorption is the gradual destruction of a tooth or multiple teeth in a cat's mouth. This is a relatively common issue in our feline companions, affecting approximately 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 its food without chewing, it may be suffering from this condition.
Preventing Cat Dental Problems
One of the best ways to help prevent your cat from developing dental problems is to brush its teeth routinely and keep your kitty's mouth clean. 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. When you bring your cat to Clackamas Pet Clinic for a dental appointment it's like taking them to a dentist for a checkup.
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 they should 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. Please make an appointment with your vet for an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition.