cat dental health1

Everything You Need to Know About Your Cat’s Dental Health

Your cat’s dental health is sooo important! Because it’s natural for them to hide signs of pain, you might not have any idea that there’s a problem unless you’re paying attention to your cat’s mouth. Keep reading to learn more about common dental problems in cats and what you can do to keep your cat’s mouth healthy!

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Why do we worry about dental disease in cats?

Dental disease usually begins when plaque bacteria builds up on a cat's teeth. The plaque then turns into a hard substance called tartar. Tartar can continue developing under the gums, causing inflammation. This inflammation (red, swollen gums) is called gingivitis. Ouch!

Gingivitis is also the root of that bad kitty breath we’re all too familiar with, especially in our senior pets. The unhealthy gums may begin to recede, causing teeth to become loose or even fall out! Gingivitis also leads to infection. This bacteria can travel through the bloodstream and eventually set up shop in other organs - most commonly, heart valves.

A process called “tooth resorption” is unfortunately a common issue in cats. Tooth resorption is basically a cavity-like breakdown or erosion of the tooth. The defect is usually located right where the tooth meets the gum line (but can also occur under the gum). The resorptive lesion may look like a hole in the tooth or may even cause the tooth to break. These can be quite painful! Your cat may drool or begin to lose weight because chewing is too uncomfortable.

How to Identify Dental Disease in Cats

It’s important to examine your cat’s mouth periodically. Look under those lips daily (in a perfect world). Checking your cat’s mouth weekly is probably more realistic, and that’s OK too!

Check for things like:

  • dental tartar
  • reddened or recessed gums
  • broken or discolored teeth
  • cracked or loose teeth
  • any signs of infection
  • firm swellings under the eye (tooth root abscess)

You should also monitor your cat for behaviors or hidden clues that there may be a problem:

  • decrease in appetite
  • dropping kibble or having chewing difficulty
  • drooling
  • weight loss
  • not letting you examine, open, or even touch their mouth (this may be a sign of pain)
  • rubbing their head or nose on carpet or furniture

It’s a good idea to get your kitten used to this sort of “exam” at home from the start. This will help him become comfortable and cooperative for teeth brushing and exams with the vet. Your vet will LOVE you for how well-behaved your kitten is, and they’ll be able to perform a thorough check-up!!

Preventing Dental Disease in Cats

Regular dental cleanings (with or without tooth extractions) are just one of the preventative tools that veterinarians recommend. Be sure to talk to your regular vet or FirstVet about brushing your cat’s teeth, and choosing the right food, treats, and toys to keep those teeth healthy!

Want to learn more? Follow these helpful links:

Veterinary Oral Health Council

National Pet Dental Health Month

AAHA Guidelines for Pet Owners (Oral Health)

And be sure to check out our article to learn how to brush your cat’s teeth!

Have more questions about your cat’s dental health?

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