Today, our vets in Clearlake will guide you on recognizing dental health issues in your cat, outline the most common dental diseases, and providing solutions for prevention and treatment. Dental problems in your cat can lead to significant pain and other health issues, so it's crucial to be aware of the signs and take proactive measures.
Your Cat's Oral Health
Your cat's overall health and well-being hinge on maintaining good oral health. Their mouth, teeth, and gums play a crucial role in eating and vocalizing. When these oral structures suffer from disease or damage and fail to function correctly, your cat will experience pain, hindering its ability to eat and communicate normally.
Moreover, the bacteria and infections responsible for many oral health problems in cats don't confine themselves to the mouth. If neglected, the infection and bacteria from your cat's mouth can spread throughout its body, causing harm to organs such as the kidneys, liver, and heart. This can more severely impact your cat's overall health and longevity.
Cat Dental Disease Symptoms
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 showing symptoms of a tooth problem.
Some of the most common symptoms of cat teeth problems 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
Bring your cat to your Clearlake veterinarian as soon as possible if you notice any of the above signs of dental disease. The sooner your cat's dental disease is identified and treated, the better off they will be in the long run.
Common Cat Dental Diseases
Various health issues can affect your cat's gums, teeth, and oral structures. However, three common conditions require close attention.
Around 70% of all cats will develop some form of periodontal disease by the age of 3. This disease stems from an infection caused by bacteria present in plaque—a soft film of bacteria and food debris accumulating on teeth throughout the day.
Failing to brush away or clean your cat's plaque regularly allows it to harden, forming tartar that extends beneath the gum line.
When bacteria get trapped beneath your cat's gum line and against their teeth, it irritates and erodes the structures supporting them. Untreated, periodontal disease can lead to severe gum infection, loose and missing teeth, and organ damage as the bacteria spreads throughout the body.
Feline stomatitis causes intense pain and ulceration in your cat's gums, cheeks, and tongue.
While Persians and Himalayans are more prone to this condition, cats can develop stomatitis.
Cats with stomatitis often experience severe pain, leading to a decrease in appetite and potential malnourishment due to the difficulty of eating. Mild cases may be manageable with at-home care, but severe instances necessitate 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 has tooth resorption, the body starts to break down the hard outer layer of the tooth, loosening it and causing pain. Without a dental x-ray, this destruction occurs below your cat's gum line, making it difficult to detect. This condition may be present if your cat suddenly prefers soft foods or swallows them without chewing.
Preventing Dental Issues in Cats
The best way to prevent dental problems in your cat's teeth is to brush and clean their mouth regularly. Brushing away plaque before it can cause damage or infection greatly improves the chances of keeping your cat's teeth and gums healthy.
To maintain your kitty's dental health, schedule a professional dental examination and cleaning for your pet once a year at Clearlake Veterinary Clinic. These appointments are akin to taking your cat to a veterinary cat dentist.
To proactively prevent oral health issues, initiate tooth and gum brushing for your cat while they are still a kitten. They will quickly adapt to the process. If your cat resists teeth cleaning, you can rely on dental treats and specialized foods to help maintain their dental hygiene.
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.