Stages of Dental Disease in Cats
While your cat's teeth are ideally suited to the task of ripping and tearing meat, they are also prone to trapping food and bacteria between the teeth and under the gumline. When leftover food particles combine with saliva and the bacteria in your cat's mouth, plaque is the inevitable result.
Plaque sticks to the surface of your cat's teeth resulting in gingivitis, which is an oral health condition characterized by swelling, redness and pain along the gumline. Over time, the plaque on your cat's teeth will gradually harden into tartar and painful periodontal disease will result.
Left untreated, periodontal disease in cats can quickly lead to feline tooth resorption. Tooth resorption is a very painful dental condition seen in cats, affecting an estimated 75% of cats over the age of 5 years. When tooth resorption strikes, your cat will need to have the affected tooth extracted in order to restore their good oral health.
As with people, bacteria from oral health issues can enter the bloodstream and travel throughout your cat's body possibly leading to heart, liver or kidney damage.
Common Signs of Dental Conditions in Cats
As previously mentioned, cats are very good at hiding signs of pain, so symptoms of dental disease can easily be missed. That said, once your cat's dental health problems become more advanced you will likely notice one or more of the following signs:
- Tooth Discoloration and visible tartar
- Bad Breath (halitosis)
- Excessive drooling (may contain blood)
- Weight loss
- Difficulty eating or slow eating
- Missing or loose teeth
- Exposed tooth roots
- Bleeding, swollen or noticeably red gums
- Poor grooming, unkept appearance
- Pawing at their teeth or mouth
If your cat is showing signs of dental disease it is likely that their oral health issue is advanced. Contact your vet to arrange a dental examination as soon as possible. The sooner your cat's dental disease is diagnosed and treated the better for your cat's long-term health.
Treatment for Dental Disease in Cats
Once your cat is experiencing the symptoms of dental health disease treatment will be necessary to relieve pain, prevent their oral health from deteriorating further, and to restore your cat's good oral health.
In some cases, a thorough professional cleaning including removing plaque and mineral buildup by scaling and polishing the teeth is all that is needed to get your cat's mouth healthy again. In more extreme cases, your vet may need to perform oral surgery in order to extract one or more of your cat's teeth.
Ways To Help Prevent Dental Disease in Cats
Caring for your cat's oral health is much like caring for your own smile - there are 3 basic elements - good nutrition, thorough at-home oral hygiene and regular professional dental care.
A healthy diet that meets all of your cat's nutritional needs is essential when it comes to keeping your cat's teeth and gums healthy. Good nutrition helps to build your cat's immune system so that they are able to fight disease and heal quickly.
Your vet may recommend a dental food designed to help reduce the growth of bacteria and plaque. These specially formulated cat foods have larger pieces to encourage chewing which can help to scrape and clean the surface of the teeth.
Supplements can also be helpful in the fight against dental disease in cats. Oral rinses can help to protect your cat's teeth and sea kelp can be an effective additive to help fight oral bacteria and tooth decay.
Cleaning 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. Our vets know that the idea of brushing your cat's teeth may seem silly or even frightening but 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.
Beginning the process of introducing teeth brushing while your kitty is young can help to make oral hygiene a normal and stress-free part of your cat's daily routine. Speak to your vet for tips on brushing your cat's teeth at home.
Professional Dental Care for Cats
Provide your cat with the best dental health protection possible with routine cleanings and checkups at your vet's office. Routine dental exams are like a visit to a cat dentist.
Much like dentist appointments for people, your cat's dental appointment will include a comprehensive examination of the teeth and charting, in some cases x-rays will be recommended, then a thorough scaling, cleaning and polishing will be done. If your vet spots any problems with your cat's dental health they will discuss treatment options with you.
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.