Many cats experience pain when they have oral health problems, which can also lead to other health issues. In this post, our Redding vets explain how you can recognize common dental health problems in cats and how you can prevent them.
Oral Health In Cats
Your cat's mouth is crucial for their health and happiness. It helps them eat and make sounds. When their mouth, teeth, or gums have problems, it hurts them and makes it hard to eat and talk.
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 your feline friend's overall health and longevity.
Signs of Cat Dental Problems
If your cat shows any of these behaviors or signs, they might have a dental problem, although the exact symptoms can vary between conditions.
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
Suppose you see your cat displaying any of the signs detailed above. In that case, they could be suffering from a dental health condition, and you should take them to your Redding 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.
About 70% of cats will have dental problems by 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 above and below the gum line.
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 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 tissue hurt a lot and don't want to eat, which can make them unhealthy. You can help your cat at home if it's not too bad. But if it's severe, they might need surgery.
Tooth resorption is the gradual destruction of a tooth or multiple teeth in a cat's mouth. This issue is relatively common in our feline companions, affecting approximately three-quarters of middle-aged and older cats.
When a cat hat tooth reabsorption, their body starts breaking down the thought outer layer of their tooth. This makes the tooth loose and painful. The damage happens under the gum line, which makes it hard to spot without a dental X-ray. But if your cat suddenly starts liking soft food more or starts swallowing food without chewing, they might have this issue.
Preventing Cat Dental Problems
One of the best ways to help prevent your cat from developing dental problems is to brush their 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 Dana Park Veterinary Hospital 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 adjust to the process quickly. If your cat won't allow you to clean their 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.