We all know that dental issues can cause a great deal of pain and discomfort. This makes prevention and early treatment crucial. Our Madison vets talk about the signs of dental concerns and how routine care and cleanings can help care for your cat's dental health and prevent painful conditions.
Cat Dental Care
The overall health of your cat can be greatly affected by their oral health. It can also affect their general quality of life. This is because the majority of what your cat does involves the use of their mouth, from eating, cleaning and playing to vocalizing, hunting and protecting themselves.
The other concern is that bacteria and infections that cause many oral health issues that won't be restricted to the 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 to the overall health and longevity of your feline friend.
Cat Dental Health Concerns: What to Watch For
There are a large number of symptoms that can be associated with dental conditions but some of the most common signs may 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 you notice any of the above signs of dental disease in your cat, bring them to your Madison vet as soon as possible for a dental exam. The sooner your cat's dental disease is diagnosed and treated the better for your cat's long-term health.
Common Issues Affecting Your Cat's Dental Health
Three of the most common cat dental health issues that we diagnose and treat in Madison include:
- Approximately 70% of all cats will develop some form of periodontal 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 can 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. 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.
- 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, their body begins to break down their 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 develops a preference for soft foods or swallows their food without chewing, they may be suffering from this condition.
How to Clean Your Cat's Teeth
The absolute best way to help prevent the development of dental problems with your cat's teeth is to brush your cat's teeth regularly. 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. While this may seem far-fetched, if you begin the process while your feline friend is young it can become a normal and stress-free part of your cat's daily routine. If your cat won't tolerate you cleaning their teeth, dental treats and foods are also available to help you keep your cat's teeth healthy.
To keep your kitty's teeth in tip-top condition take your cat to the vet for annual dental exams and cleanings. 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.