Clarendon Street Vets explains the signs of feline dental disease
January 21, 2022
Dental disease in cats is more common than you might think, affecting around 85% of cats over the age of three according to International Cat Care. February is Pet Dental Health Month, and we are keen to help owners understand the dental problems their cat could be living with.
Plaque & tartar – the common culprits
Periodontal disease is typically associated with the build-up of plaque (layers of bacteria) and the formation of tartar deposits (hard yellow/brown substance) on the teeth. Left untreated, periodontal disease can develop, affecting the teeth as well as the supporting structures i.e. gums, ligaments, and bone.
Types of feline dental disease
– Gingivitis causes irritation, redness and swelling of the gingiva (the part of the gum around the base of the teeth.) It ranges from mild to sever and along with redness and swelling signs can include excessive drooling, bad breath, pawing at the mouth, difficulty eating, and in some cases bleeding.
– Periodontitis is common in older cats with a lot of tartar deposits. Diseased ligaments begin to break down, exposing the roots and making the teeth unstable. Bacterial infection can be present and extraction is usually needed. Inflamed and receding gums are common signs of peridontal disease.
– Stomatitis – Chronic gingivostomatitis is when inflammation spreads from the gingiva to other areas, often at the back of the mouth. It is extremely painful and cats will find it difficult to eat, probably lose weight, drool excessively, and show signs of pain such as pawing at the mouth. Some cases have been linked with persistent FCV and FIV infection.
– Feline resorptive lesions (FRLs) are erosions in the tooth in or below the gum line, commonly found in cats over five years old. Left untreated, the crown can come off leaving the root exposed.
– Fractures can be caused if a tooth is weakened and/or through eating extra hard food, engaging in rough play or hunting, or trauma.
Are some cats predisposed to dental disease?
Yes. Cats with misaligned teeth are more likely to develop dental disease as food can become trapped between the teeth and cause ongoing problems.
Short-nosed breeds, cats with congenital abnormalities (such as overbite/underbite), trauma to the face and mouth and deciduous tooth retention (when baby teeth don’t fall out and cause adult teeth to grow abnormally) are all causes of tooth misalignment.
Other predisposing factors are an unsuitable diet and some infectious, preventable diseases.
How often should cats have a dental check up?
Prevention and early diagnosis are key to protecting your cat’s oral health. We check your cat’s teeth when they come for their annual vaccinations and will advise of any conditions that need further attention. Regular home cleaning and a suitable diet can also help maintain good dental health. Our Cambridge team can advise you so do get in touch.
A lot can change in a year and cats tend to hide pain, so if you have concerns in between annual health checks we would advise a dental check up. You can also check your cat’s mouth at home if they will let you. You are looking for red/swollen/bleeding gums, receding gums, excessively bad breath, tartar deposits, and missing/broken teeth.
As with all pet health concerns, we are on hand to help, so please feel free to contact us should you have any questions or concerns.