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 Mamaroneck vets explain how you can recognize common dental health problems in cats and how you can prevent them.
Oral Health In Cats
Taking care of your cat's oral health is crucial for their overall well-being. The mouth, teeth, and gums play essential roles in their eating and communication. When these oral structures are damaged, diseased, or not functioning properly, your cat experiences pain, affecting their ability to eat and communicate normally.
Moreover, the bacteria and infections responsible for many oral health problems in cats don't remain confined to the mouth. If left untreated, these infections and bacteria can spread throughout your cat's body, potentially causing damage to vital organs like the kidneys, liver, and heart.
This can have serious consequences for your cat's overall health and lifespan.
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 a 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 loose 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 Mamaroneck 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 there are various dental health issues that can affect a cat's teeth, gums, and other oral structures, there are three relatively common conditions you need to be aware of.
Around 70% of cats will develop some type of periodontal disease by the age of 3.
This disease is caused by bacteria present in plaque, the soft layer of bacteria and food particles that accumulates on teeth throughout the day. If plaque is not regularly removed, it hardens into tartar above and below the gum line.
As the bacteria becomes trapped beneath your cat's gums and around their teeth, it starts to irritate and damage the structures that support their teeth. If left untreated, periodontal disease can lead to severe gum infection, tooth loss, and even organ damage as the bacteria spreads through 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 their 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, their body begins to break down their 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, they may be suffering from this condition.
Preventing Cat Dental Problems
One of the best ways to maintain your cat's dental health is by regularly brushing their teeth and keeping their mouth clean. By brushing or wiping away plaque before it can cause harm or infection, you greatly improve the chances of your cat's teeth and gums staying healthy.
To ensure your kitty's teeth remain in great shape, it's recommended to bring them in for a professional dental examination and cleaning once a year, just like taking them to a dentist for a checkup.
Starting the habit of cleaning your cat's teeth and gums when they are still a kitten can help prevent oral health issues from developing. Most kittens adapt quickly to the process. If your cat doesn't tolerate teeth cleaning, there are dental treats and foods available that can assist you in maintaining their dental health.
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.