Your pet needs dental care just as much as you do because they can develop serious dental conditions throughout their life that can lead to discomfort and pain. Here, our Avon veterinary team explains how to identify dental disease in your cat, a few common examples of oral health issues your cat may experience.
The health of your cat's teeth and gums is incredibly important to their overall health and happiness. Our cats use their mouth, teeth, and gums to eat and vocalize so if their oral structures aren't functioning correctly, or are causing pain, your cat will suffer.
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.
How do you identify dental disease in your cat?
While different oral health issues will have different specific symptoms you will be able to identify in your cat if you notice any of the following behaviors or symptoms, there is a chance that your cat is suffering from dental disease. Symptoms of dental disease can include:
- Excessive drooling
- Bad Breath (halitosis)
- Weight loss
- Difficulty with or slow eating
- Visible tartar
- Bleeding, swollen, or noticeably red gums
- Missing or loose teeth
- Pawing at their teeth or mouth
If you notice any of the above signs of dental disease in your cat, bring them to your Avon vet as soon as possible for examinations. The sooner your cat's dental disease is diagnosed, the better.
What are some common dental diseases in cats?
There are many different health issues that can impact the health of your cat's teeth and gums, here are three of the common ones to look out for.
It's estimated that about 70% of all cats will develop some form of p[eriodontal disease by the time they reach the age of 3.
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 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 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.
Some breeds are predisposed to developing this condition, like Persians and Himalayans, 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 relatively 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 gum line so it can be quite difficult 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 do I prevent dental disease in my cat?
Just like in people, the number one way to help prevent the development of dental disease and issues with your cat's teeth 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 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 veterinary dentist in Avon for checkups starting when your cat is a year old will help to prevent disease with professional cleanings and oral health treatments. No amount of at-home care should stop you from bringing your cat or dog to their dentist.