Dental issues are surprisingly common in cats and can cause them a lot of pain and other health conditions. Our Ankeny vets are here to talk about common dental problems in cats and how you can help solve them.
Oral Health Care For Cats
Keeping your cat's mouth clean and healthy is an important part of maintaining their overall health. Your cat's mouth, teeth and gums all work together to allow them to eat and vocalize so if oral structures become diseased or damaged, your cat can experience pain, which will interfere with its ability to eat and communicate.
Not only that, the bacteria and infections that cause 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 on the overall health and longevity of your feline friend.
The 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 any of the above symptoms are present in your cat, contact a pet dentist in Ankeny right away to book a comprehensive dental checkup. The sooner your cat's dental disease is diagnosed and treated the better for your cat's long-term health.
3 Common Cat Dental Diseases
While there is a wide range of health issues that can affect your cat's gums, teeth, and other oral structures, there are three particularly common conditions to watch out for.
1. Periodontal Disease
Approximately 70% of all cats will develop some form of periodontal disease by the time they reach the age of 3.
Periodontal disease is an infection caused by bacteria in plaque. If plaque is not brushed away or regularly cleaned, it will become hard at which point it is referred to as tartar and can extend below the gumline and cause a number of other problems.
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.
3. Tooth Resorption
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, its body begins to break 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 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.
Preventing Dental Issues in Cats
The most successful way to stop your cat from developing oral health issues is to brush their teeth frequently. If they are being cleaned often, 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.
To help keep your kitty's teeth in tip-top condition bring your pet in for a professional dental examination and cleaning once a year. Dental appointments with our vet dentists at Creature Comforts Veterinary Hospital in Ankeny are like taking your kitty for an appointment at the veterinary cat dentist.
To prevent oral health issues from developing in the first place, 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.