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Common Cat Dental Problems

Common Cat Dental Problems

Just like humans, oral health issues can cause a great deal of pain in cats. It is important for owners to be able to recognize signs of gum and tooth damage in their cats to get them the appropriate treatment as soon as possible. Here, our Port Jefferson vets share the most common dental problems in cats.

Oral Health In Cats

The well-being of your cat relies on their oral health. A healthy mouth, teeth, and gums enable your cat to eat and communicate without discomfort. However, when their oral structures suffer damage, disease, or dysfunction, it causes pain, hindering their ability to eat and vocalize normally.

Furthermore, the bacteria and infections responsible for various oral health problems in cats can spread beyond the mouth. If left untreated, these infections and bacteria may circulate throughout the body, potentially harming organs like the kidneys, liver, and heart. This can have serious implications for your cat's overall health and lifespan.

Signs of Cat Dental Problems

Some of the most common symptoms of dental disease in cats can include:

  • Bleeding, swollen, or noticeably red gums
  • Bad Breath (halitosis)
  • Visible tartar
  • Missing or loose teeth
  • Pawing at their teeth or mouth
  • Excessive drooling
  • Difficulty with or slow eating
  • Weight loss

If you see your cat displaying any of the signs detailed above they could be suffering from a dental health condition, and you should take them to your Port Jefferson vet as quickly as possible for an examination. The sooner your cat's dental disease is diagnosed and treated the better for your cat's recovery and long-term health.

Dental Diseases That Are Common In Cats

While there are various dental health issues that can affect a cat's teeth, gums, and other oral structures, there are three relatively common conditions you need to be aware of.

Periodontal Disease

Around 70% of cats will develop some type of periodontal disease by the age of 3.

This disease is caused by a bacterial infection found in plaque, which is the soft film of bacteria and food particles that accumulates on teeth throughout the day. If your cat's plaque is not regularly brushed away or cleaned, it will harden and form tartar both above and below the gum line.

As the bacteria becomes trapped beneath your cat's gum line and in contact with their teeth, it will start to irritate and erode the structures supporting their teeth. If left untreated, periodontal disease can lead to severe gum infections, tooth looseness or loss, and even organ damage as the bacteria spreads throughout your pet's body.


Feline stomatitis is a very 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 with this condition often suffer from extreme pain, and as a result, have reduced appetites. 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

Tooth resorption is the gradual destruction of a tooth or multiple teeth in a cat's mouth. This is a relatively common issue in our feline companions, affecting approximately 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 gum line 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.

Preventing Cat Dental Problems

One of the best ways to help prevent your cat from developing dental problems is to brush their teeth routinely and keep your kitty's mouth clean. 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.

To help keep your kitty's teeth in tip-top condition bring your pet in for a professional dental examination and cleaning once a year. When you bring your cat to Jefferson Animal Hospital for a dental appointment it's like taking them to a dentist for a checkup.

To prevent oral health issues from developing in the first place, you should begin cleaning your cat's teeth and gums while they are still a kitten and they should be able to quickly adjust to the process. If your cat won't allow you to clean their teeth, dental treats and foods are also available to help you keep your cat's teeth healthy.

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.

If you're noticing signs of oral pain or disease in your kitty, contact our Port Jefferson veterinarians immediately!

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