Learn about dental diseases in cats, their symptoms, and how to prevent them from your local veterinarian
Just like humans teeth and gum diseases are also common among cats. Studies indicate that dental diseases are more common in cats that are older than four years. Fortunately, most of these diseases can be treated with appropriate feline dental care. Read this guide to dental diseases in cats and their symptoms for better understanding.
- Gingivitis is a common gum disease that causes the gums to become inflamed and painful. It begins with a buildup of plaque which is a sticky film of bacteria that is deposited on the teeth. These bacteria are believed to be beneficial in cats with good oral health.
In healthy cats, the plaque accumulates above the gingiva. But the plaque can go deeper in the gingiva and cause inflammation, if not regularly removed. In addition, tooth crowding and inadequate oral health can lead to the accumulation of plaque.
- Plaque begins to absorb minerals from the gingiva and eventually becomes hard. This hardened plaque is now referred to as calculus or tartar. Calculus attracts disease-causing bacteria through its rough surface thereby promoting inflammation.
In addition, gingivitis can also be caused by infectious diseases including feline leukemia virus, feline immunodeficiency virus, kidney disease, diabetes mellitus, and autoimmune disease.
Depending on the severity of the disease cats may stop eating, drool or develop bad breath, and a preference for soft foods.
- Brush teeth regularly to remove plaque build-up.
- Use tooth gel specifically designed for cats.
- Cats can eventually be trained to allow regular tooth brushing.
- In case of severe gingivitis consult a veterinarian.
Depending on the severity of the gingivitis, treatment may involve:
- Use of antibiotics
- Scaling of plaque from the teeth
- Immunosuppressive drugs
- Removal of teeth
- If gingivitis is not treated it can progress into periodontitis. Periodontitis is a condition in which tissues that attach the tooth to the gums and bone become weak, due to the action of disease-causing bacteria and inflammation.
This destruction of tissues causes the teeth to become loose and may result in tooth loss. Periodontitis develops as a complication of gingivitis so controlling it can help prevent periodontitis.
Since gingivitis leads to periodontitis, cats usually show signs of gingivitis such as:
- The recession of the gingiva
- Exposure of tooth root surfaces
- Mobility of the teeth
Probing of the gums and X-rays of the head and jaw are used for the diagnosis of periodontitis.
Treatment of feline periodontitis involves scaling and polishing the teeth to remove plaque and mineral buildup. In severe cases, affected teeth may be removed.
- The breakdown of tooth structure is referred to as tooth resorption. The process begins inside the tooth and eventually progresses to the other tooth parts. It is one of the most common causes of tooth loss in cats. Signs of tooth resorption are apparent in 30 to 70% of cats.
- A pinkish defect is first observed in the tooth at the base where the tooth meets the gums. However, when this defect is identified the tooth is already severely damaged. The severity of these lesions varies from minor defects at the gum line to significant and serious defects in the enamel. This process may be associated with gingivitis.
This condition is quite painful and may cause the cat to stop eating. Cats may drool or turn their head to the side while eating. The examination is done by a veterinarian by examination of the mouth and teeth.
- The goal of the treatment is to reduce the pain, prevent the condition from progressing, and restore the function of the teeth.
If your cat shows signs of the conditions mentioned above, consult a veterinarian immediately. At Autumn Trails and Veterinary Center, we provide multiple veterinary services. We are located in Charlottesville, VA. Appointments are conveniently available, call us at 434-971-9800.