Just like people, our feline friends can develop dental conditions and diseases that can cause them discomfort or pain. Here, our Fort Pierce veterinary team explains how to spot dental disease in your cat, some common oral health affecting cats, and ways to help prevent them from developing.
Your cat's oral health is incredibly important to their general health and happiness. Our feline companions use their mouths, teeth, and gums to eat and vocalize and when their oral structures stop functioning properly or are causing them pain, not only will they be able to do those as effectively, they will be uncomfortable and in pain.
Plus, the bacteria and infection that causes many oral health issues won't just remain in your cat's mouth if it isn't promptly treated. Infection and bacteria may begin to circulate throughout your pet's body, damaging organs like their kidneys, liver, and heart and leading to more serious impacts on their overall health.
Signs Of Dental Disease In Cats
Although different oral health issues will present different specific symptoms in cats, if you notice any of the following behaviors or symptoms, there is a chance that your cat is suffering from dental disease. Signs of dental disease can include:
- Bad Breath (halitosis)
- Excessive drooling
- Weight loss
- Difficulty with or slow eating
- Missing or losing teeth
- Visible tartar
- Bleeding, swollen, or noticeably red gums
- Pawing at their teeth or mouth
If your cat displays any of the above signs of dental disease, bring them to your Fort Pierce vet as soon as possible for an examination. The sooner your cat's dental disease is diagnosed and treated, the better for their overall health.
Common Dental Diseases In Cats
While there is a wide range of health issues that can affect your cat's gums, teeth, and other oral structures, here are three particularly common ones to watch out for.
It's estimated that about 70% of all cats will develop some form of periodontal disease by the time they reach the age of 3 years old.
This disease is an infection caused by bacteria found in plaque, which is the film of bacteria and food debris that builds up on teeth over the day. If your cat's plaque isn't regularly removed through brushing or other methods, it will harden and form tartar that extends below their gum life.
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 extremely painful inflammation and ulceration (opening of sores) of your cat's gums, cheeks, and tongue.
Some breeds are prone to developing this condition, including Persians and Himalayans, but any cat can develop stomatitis.
Cats suffering from this condition are often in huge amounts of pain and consequently have reduced appetites. 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 one or more multiple teeth in your cat's mouth. This is a relatively common condition in cats, potentially affecting up to 3/4 of middle-aged and older cats.
When a cat develops tooth resorption, this means its body starts breaking down its tooth's hard outer layer, loosening it and causing pain. This destruction occurs below your cat's gum line so it can be quite difficult to detect without a dental X-ray. If your cat suddenly develops a preference for soft foods or swallows their food without chewing, they may be suffering from this condition.
Preventing Dental Disease In Cats
As it is in people, the best way to help prevent the development of dental disease and issues with your cat's teeth is through routine brushing and cleaning of your cat's mouth. Your cat's teeth and gums will have a considerably better chance of staying healthy if plaque is removed before it can cause damage or infection.
For the best results, 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.
On top of at-home brushing, regular visits to your vet for dental checkups starting when your cat is a year old will help to prevent disease with professional cleanings and oral health treatments.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.