Common Feline Dental Problems
February 1st, 2019
Did you know that dental disease is one of the leading medical conditions that affect cats? Cats have two sets of teeth, their baby teeth, and their adult teeth. Baby, or deciduous teeth, are replaced by adult teeth around 6 months of age. Your kitty’s teeth will need to last for a lifetime, which makes it extremely important that you stay alert to any dental problems.
Signs of Dental Disease
Symptoms of dental disease in cats include bad breath, tooth discoloration, swollen or bleeding gums, loose teeth, and difficulty eating. Sometimes it’s hard to tell if your kitty is experiencing oral discomfort. You may notice your furry friend pawing at the mouth or drooling. At times, cats will avoid dry food and will only eat wet food due to dental pain, or in some cases, they may stop eating altogether.
Feline Periodontal Disease
Periodontal disease (gum disease) is a common and serious condition caused by bacteria in dental plaque. If left sitting on your cat’s teeth, plaque builds up and hardens into tartar, which eventually enters under the gum line. This results in the first stage of gum diseases called gingivitis, which is characterized by red, irritated, and inflamed gums. If left untreated, gingivitis can advance to periodontitis, which may damage the supporting tissues around the teeth, potentially leading to tooth loss.
In addition to oral problems, periodontal disease may result in health issues including organ damage. This happens when bacteria from the infected tooth roots and gums enters the bloodstream, a condition called bacteremia.
Tooth resorption is caused by the progressive destruction of a tooth or teeth which results in deepening pits and holes. Once the nerves are exposed, the area becomes intensely painful, and the only treatment option is to extract the affected teeth.
Stomatitis is a painful condition characterized by severe inflammation and ulceration of the soft tissues in a cat’s mouth. It is caused by an over-active immune system reacting to the bacteria present in dental plaque. While some cats will respond to medical treatment, most cats will require tooth removal to provide relief.
Preventing Dental Disease in Cats
The best way to manage dental disease in cats is prevention. While there are many products available today that help to reduce the accumulation of plaque and tartar, brushing your kitty’s teeth regularly is the best preventive measure you can take. Starting young will help your furry friend adapt to teeth cleaning at home. The American Academy of Feline Practitioners recommends professional veterinary dental cleanings at least one a year. However, annual cleanings may not be advised for various reasons, including the risk of putting your cat under full anesthesia. Discuss the risks and benefits of annual dentals with your veterinarian.
When Should You Contact Your Vet?
If you notice any signs of dental disease in your cat, or if you have questions regarding caring for your furry companion’s dental health, we recommend that you contact All About Cats Veterinary Hospital in the Kirkland area. We will take any measure needed to treat any condition before it progresses. We look forward to helping your precious feline friend enjoy healthy, happy meows for years to come!
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