Dental problems can cause a lot of pain for your cat and lead to other health problems. Today, our Stockton veterinary team explains how to recognize dental health issues in your cat, the most common dental diseases in cats, and how to prevent or treat these issues.
Your Cat's Oral Health
The oral health of your cat is critical to their overall health and well-being. Your cat eats and vocalizes using its mouth, teeth, and gums, so when its oral structures become diseased or damaged and stop functioning properly, your cat experiences pain, which interferes with its ability to eat and communicate normally.
Not only that but the bacteria and infection that cause many oral health issues in cats will not be contained within your cat's mouth. If left untreated, the infection and bacteria from your cat's mouth may begin to circulate throughout his or her body, damaging organs such as the kidneys, liver, and heart and leading to more serious consequences for your feline friend's overall health and longevity.
Cat Dental Disease Symptoms
The symptoms of each condition vary, but if your cat exhibits any of the following behaviors or symptoms, it's possible that he has dental disease.
Among the most common signs of feline dental disease is:
- Bad Breath (halitosis)
- Excessive drooling
- Weight loss
- Difficulty with or slow eating
- Missing or loose 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, take them to your Stockton veterinarian for examinations as soon as possible. The sooner you diagnose and treat your cat's dental disease, the better off your cat will be in the long run.
Common Cat Dental Problems
While many conditions can affect your cat's gums, teeth, and other oral structures, three are particularly common.
By the age of three, approximately 70% of all cats will have developed some form of periodontal disease.
This infection is caused by bacteria found in plaque, which is a thin film of bacteria and food debris that forms on teeth throughout the day. If your cat's plaque isn't brushed away or cleaned on a regular basis, it will harden and form tartar, which will extend below the gum line.
When bacteria become trapped beneath your cat's gum line and against their teeth, it irritates and erodes the structures that support their teeth. Periodontal disease, if left untreated, will result in a severe infection of your cat's gums, loose and missing teeth, and organ damage as the bacteria spreads throughout his body.
Feline stomatitis is an excruciatingly painful inflammation and ulceration of your cat's gums, cheeks, and tongue.
Persians and Himalayans are predisposed to developing stomatitis, but any cat can get it.
Cats with this condition are frequently in excruciating pain and have decreased appetites as a result. Because it is so painful for cats to eat, they may become malnourished in some cases. If your cat has a mild case, at-home care may be sufficient to treat their stomatitis. Severe cases, on the other hand, necessitate surgical intervention.
Tooth resorption in cats refers to the gradual loss of one or more teeth in the mouth of your feline friend. Cats are prone to this condition, with estimates stating that as many as three-quarters of middle-aged and older cats suffer from it.
The hard outer layer of a cat's tooth is broken down by tooth resorption, causing it to loosen and cause pain. Because the damage takes place below the cat's gumline, detecting it without a dental x-ray is difficult. If, on the other hand, your cat suddenly starts eating only soft foods or gobbles them up whole without chewing, they may have this disease.
Preventing Dental Disease in Cats
The absolute best way to help prevent the development of dental problems in your cat is to brush and clean his or her teeth on a regular basis. If plaque is brushed or wiped away before it can cause damage or infection, your cat's teeth and gums will have a much better chance of remaining healthy.
To help keep your cat's teeth healthy, bring your pet in once a year for a professional dental examination and cleaning.
To avoid developing oral health problems in the first place, you should begin cleaning your cat's teeth and gums while they are still young and easily adapt to the process. If your cat refuses to have its teeth cleaned, dental treats and foods are also available to assist you in keeping their 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.