Dental disease can cause a serious amount of pain and discomfort for your cat and if left untreated can lead to other severe complications. Our Gillette vets share some information about how cleaning your cat's teeth can help protect their dental health.
The Importance of Cat Dental Care
Much like us, the oral health of our cats can have an effect on the health of their entire body. The oral structure is important to everything your cat does, from eating, chatting and generally exploring the world around them.
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 lead to more severe impacts on the overall health and longevity of your feline friend.
Noticeable Signs of Dental Concerns
While the symptoms can vary depending on the specific oral condition, there are certain signs that your cat is likely experiencing a serious oral condition.
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 losing teeth
- Visible tartar
- Bleeding, swollen, or noticeably red gums
- Pawing at their teeth or mouth
It is important to have any potential oral issue diagnosed and treated as soon as possible. If your cat shows any of the signs listed above please contact our Gillette vets as soon as possible to schedule a dental examination. The sooner your cat's dental disease is diagnosed and treated the better for your cat's long-term health.
The Common Types of Dental Issues
There can be a number of different oral conditions affecting cats and their health but a few of the most commonly seen issues include:
- Most cats. 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 day. If your cat's plaque isn't regularly brushed away or cleaned, it will harden and form tartar that extends below its gumline. When the bacteria gets trapped below your cat's gumline and against its teeth, it will begin to irritate and erode the structures supporting your kitty's teeth. If untreated, periodontal disease can 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. 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 its 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 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 gumline so it can be challenging to detect without a dental x-ray. However, if your cat suddenly prefers soft foods or swallows its food without chewing, it may suffer from this condition.
Ways to Prevent Dental Concerns in Cats
It is important to clean your cat's teeth often in order to prevent diseases and conditions that can have a detrimental effect on their health. By cleaning your cat's teeth every day through teeth brushing you can help keep them clean and healthy. 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. It is ideal to start with dental hygiene as early as possible to help your cat be more accepting of it as they age. If your cat doesn't tolerate you cleaning its teeth, dental treats and foods are also available to help you keep your cat's teeth healthy.
Professional dental care including routine exams and dental cleaning is also a crucial part of their oral hygiene routine. Taking your kitty for a dental appointment is like taking your cat for a routine dentist appointment and will include a thorough examination of your cat's teeth as well as a deep cleaning and possibly even X-rays.
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.