Cats can suffer from painful dental issues. Our Jackson vets share how to spot common cat dental problems and give advice on avoiding them.
Oral Health In Cats
Your cat's dental health is important to their overall health and well-being. Not only do they rely on their mouth, teeth, and gums for eating and expressing themselves, but any damage or disease can interfere with their ability to eat and communicate normally and cause them significant discomfort.
In addition to this, the bacteria and infections that cause many oral health issues in cats won't just stay in the mouth.
If not addressed timely, these harmful agents can spread throughout your cat's system, potentially harming vital organs like the kidneys, liver, and heart. This can have detrimental effects on your cat's overall health and lifespan.
Prioritizing their dental care is not just about a bright smile but a holistic approach to their long and healthy life.
Signs of Cat Dental Problems
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
When you notice any of the described symptoms in your cat, it might indicate a dental issue. Don't hesitate - visit your local Jackson 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.
By the time they hit the 3-year mark, about 70% of felines encounter some type of periodontal issue.
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 not addressed, periodontal disease can escalate to severe gum infections, wobbly or lost teeth, and even potential organ harm as bacteria disperses throughout your furry friend's system.
Feline stomatitis is an intense inflammation that results in open sores on a cat's gums, cheeks, and tongue, causing significant discomfort.
Persians and Himalayans are predisposed to developing this condition, but any cat can develop stomatitis.
The pain from this condition can be so severe that many cats experience decreased food intake, leading to malnourishment in extreme cases. For milder instances, at-home remedies might suffice. However, in more acute situations, surgical procedures become necessary.
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 is afflicted with tooth erosion, their body starts to erode the robust exterior layer of the tooth, leading to discomfort and a wobbly tooth. This erosion primarily takes place beneath the cat's gums, making it difficult to identify 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
Maintaining your cat's dental health is paramount. Regularly brushing their teeth and ensuring their mouth stays clean can significantly reduce the risk of dental issues. With consistent care, you can combat plaque build-up, preventing potential damage or infection to their teeth and gums.
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 North Madison Animal 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 quickly adjust to the process. 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.