If left untreated, dental disease in cats can have life-long repercussions. The good news is that it can be prevented. Today, our Rockland County veterinary team discusses dental disease in cats, what the typical symptoms are and how it can be prevented or treated.
Dental Disease in Cats
Your cat's oral health is important to their overall health and wellbeing. Your cat uses their mouth, teeth and gums to eat and vocalize, so if your cat begins to experience the symptoms of dental disease they will experience pain, which will interfere with their ability to eat and communicate normally.
Not only that, the bacteria and infection that causes many oral health issues in cats won't just remain in your kitty's mouth. Left untreated the infection and bacteria from your cat's mouth may begin to circulate throughout your pet's body, damaging organs such as their kidneys, liver and heart and leading to more serious impacts to the overall health and longevity of your feline friend.
Typical Signs of Dental Disease in Cats
Specific symptoms will differ between conditions, however, if you notice any of the following behaviors or symptoms, there is a chance that your cat is suffering from dental disease.
Some of the most common symptoms of dental disease in cats can include:
- 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, bring them to your Rockland County vet as soon as possible for examinations. The sooner your cat's dental disease is diagnosed and treated the better for your cat's long-term health.
Common Types of Dental Disease in Cats
While there is a wide range of health issues that can affect your cat's gums, teeth and other oral structures, there are three main types of dental disease in cats that you should keep an eye out for. These are:
By the time a cat is three most have experienced some form of dental disease.
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 that extends below their gumline.
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 will cause a severe infection of your cat's gums, loose and missing teeth, and organ damage as the bacteria travels throughout your pet's body.
Feline stomatitis is an incredibly 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 suffering from this condition are often in extreme pain and have reduced appetites because of that. 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 in cats describes the gradual destruction of a tooth or multiple teeth in your cat's mouth. This is a fairly common condition in cats, potentially affecting up to 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 gumline 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.
How Dental Disease in Cats Can Be Prevented
The best way that you can is routine brushing and cleaning of your cat's mouth. Your cat's teeth and gums will have a much better chance of remaining healthy if plaque is brushed or wiped away before dental disease can begin.
One of the easiest ways to take proper care of your cat's teeth is to bring your pet in for a professional dental examination and cleaning once a year. Dental appointments at Rockland Veterinary are like taking your kitty for an appointment at the veterinary cat dentist.
In order to help prevent dental disease in cats from becoming a concern, you should begin cleaning your cat's teeth and gums while they are still a kitten and will 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.