- Dental problems in cats can be defined as any issue with the teeth or gums that can affect a cat’s health.
- These problems include plaque and tartar buildup, tooth decay, FORL, fractures, misalignment, gum disease (gingivitis, periodontitis), stomatitis, tumor, abscess, and halitosis.
- Signs can vary from bad breath and discolored, loose or missing teeth to inflammation and swelling but abnormal salivation and change in behavior or eating habits can also occur.
- Treatment and medication will vary according to the cause.
- Since the consequences can be very serious (sometimes even fatal) it is important to take preventative actions.
Did you know that cats’ teeth can be just as problematic as human teeth and they also can develop different dental problems over time?
As it turns out, dental problems are among the most prevalent issues seen by veterinarians when treating cats. In fact, the American Veterinary Dental College reports that dental disease is the most frequently diagnosed health problem in cats, affecting more than 70% of cats by the age of two to three.
And, while this problem tends to be more common and more severe as cats get older, it can actually affect cats of any age with different severity – ranging from a mild accumulation of tartar and bad breath to severe infection, tooth loss and even potentially life-threatening systemic illnesses.
What is dental disease in cats and how does it develop?
Dental problems in cats can be defined as any issue with the teeth or gums that can affect a cat’s oral health.
How do dental problems develop in cats?
In a nutshell, just like us, cats also have oral bacteria which adheres on the surface of the teeth. When in contact with saliva and food particles, these bacteria cause the first stage of dental problems in the formation of plaque buildup. Without proper dental care, the cat’s teeth get covered in plaque as it forms daily in the cat’s mouth.
If this plaque is not removed, it begins to mineralize and harden into tartar that can eventually cause tooth decay and inflamed gums: gingivitis. If left unattended, the bacteria that cause gingivitis under the gum line will then cause deeper infection and breakdown of the tissues (periodontitis) that hold the teeth in the root socket. The breath becomes very odorous and the teeth will eventually become very unstable and loose which can lead to potential tooth loss.
Apart from bad breath, gingivitis, periodontitis and tooth loss other possible dental problems and diseases can also occur if the teeth and gums are not cared for properly, such as stomatitis, feline odontoclastic resorptive lesions, fractures or oral ulcers and tumors.