Dental Problems with Cats and How to Prevent Them

Even the healthiest breeds of cats can get health problems from time to time. A problem with our cat’s health can be really worrying too. It is never nice to see a pet sick, and they usually can’t communicate the pain. Often this makes it hard to know what is to blame, and dental problems are a very common issue for cats. Many owners completely overlook the oral health of their pets. However, the teeth, gums, and general mouth are just as important for cats as they are for humans.

Cat’s dental care can cause them some real issues, yet few pet owners take much of an interest in the cleanliness of their teeth. That’s why a study has found that 85% of cats that are three or older have a dental disease. This level is quite shocking, especially when you consider the seriousness of dental problems for cats.

With cat oral health problems and dental issues so prevalent, it is important to look after your cat’s dental health. Keeping on top of their tooth care can help make sure they don’t develop any health issues in the long term. These are the main dental problems that can happen in your cat, along with the symptoms to watch out for, and how you can prevent them in the first place.

Symptoms of Dental Problems in Cats

Dental Problems with Cats
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If you’re worried about your cat having dental problems, there are some clear symptoms to watch out for. Like with any other pet health problem, you’ll have to watch their behavior for clues. A pet can struggle to let you know they’re in specific pain, so picking up on these behavior changes in our pets is key to keeping them healthy.

If your cat is demonstrating any of the main symptoms of a dental disease, then a trip to the vet is going to be necessary. These are the symptoms of dental problems in cats that you need to watch out for:

Symptoms

  • Bad Breath – Most cats have bad breath; given their diet, this is pretty natural. This symptom could really be termed ‘excessively bad breath’. If your cat has bad breath beyond it just being the typical breath of a cat, then this is a symptom that something is wrong in their mouth.
  • Sore Gums – Sore gums are a common symptom of a dental problem in your cat. This is especially true for gum disease. This one can be hard to spot unless you’re looking for it though, so try to keep an eye out for their gums where possible.
  • Tartar Build Up on Teeth – This is going to become visible if your cat’s dental health is really bad.
  • Eating Less – A cat will eat less since there is pain involved in eating. A loss of appetite in an otherwise healthy cat is a good sign that they’re struggling to eat the food without suffering.
  • Pawing at Their Mouths – A cat with bad dental problems will paw at their mouth fairly frequently.
  • Avoiding Hard Food – A cat will avoid hard foods like biscuits and prefer soft or wet food. This is because hard food is tougher on their already damaged mouths.
  • Drooling – Dental problems are some common causes of drooling in cats.

What Causes Dental Problems with Cats?

Dental Problems with Cats
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Dental problems seem to affect the vast majority of cats as they age, with 85% being afflicted with one. This is because the causes of dental problems in cats are quite likely to occur in most cats. These are the main reasons why cats will develop dental problems:

  • Age – This is a major factor really. Teeth get worn down and suffer wear and tear through the years, just like with humans.
  • Diet – Again, this is similar to humans. Cats often eat food that builds up the plaque and tartar on their teeth, which will cause them dental problems in the future. Dry food helps to remove this, but it doesn’t solve the problem entirely.
  • Baby Teeth – Some cats retain their baby teeth for one reason or another. They can become a bit of a breeding ground for bacteria which leads to an infection or disease.
  • Breed – Some breeds of cats are more predisposed to dental problems than others. This is an unfortunate reality of choosing a cat breed, some are healthier than others.

The majority of those causes of cat dental problems can be pretty much attributed to living a normal life. A cat is going to age, eat certain foods, and have plaque build-up. It might feel like there is little you can do to do to prevent this, but you can treat a cat’s health problems overall.

Dental Problems in Cats

Dental Problems with Cats
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A lot of cats get dental problems over the course of their lives, but there are quite a few different dental problems they can have. Most have similar symptoms, but some are a lot more serious than others. These are the most common dental problems in cats:

Gum Diseases

Gum diseases are pretty common in a lot of cats. They can appear to be red linings around the bottoms of the gums and the teeth. These can inflame the gums and make them quite uncomfortable for a cat. There are many different types of gum disease:

  • Gingivitis – This is a common problem for cats and is inflammation of their gums. This is caused by infections and tartar build-up. It can particularly make eating difficult.
  • Gingivostomatitis – This is a condition that is similar to gingivitis but a whole lot worse. This is inflammation that is much worse and can spread around the entire mouth. It can go to the insides of their cheeks and even the back of their mouth and jaw. This is a serious problem for cats that can be difficult to live with.

Tooth Diseases

Cats can have dental problems that go a lot further than gum disease. Tooth problems can include tooth diseases or conditions, along with physical damage to their teeth. These are some of the main tooth problems that can happen to a cat:

  • Broken Teeth – Teeth can physically break in a cat’s mouth. This is pretty common if they’ve had issues with other dental problems like gum disease. This can expose nerves under the teeth which are very painful and can become infected in serious cases.
  • Tooth Reabsorption – This is a serious condition that happens when parts of a tooth are eaten away because of poor teeth health. It causes lesions that can make a tooth snap off entirely. The remaining bit is then reabsorbed which is quite painful for your cat.
  • Root Abscesses – A root abscesses can occur in a cat. This happens when an area is infected, causing a bubble of pus under a tooth to occur. This is harder to notice since it is sunk back. Usually, teeth need removing and the infection treating if this happens.

Those are the major tooth diseases that cats can suffer from. A lot of these are really quite serious. They’re also very common in cats, so most will get one or more in their lifetimes. The good news though is that cat’s teeth can be protected if you take some steps to prevent tooth problems occurring.

How to Prevent Dental Problems in Cat

Dental Problems with Cats
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The diseases that can happen to a cat’s mouth can get pretty painful and unpleasant. Treating them can also be difficult and take quite a while. This makes prevention of these problems in the first place key.  It is always better to prevent a dental problem in the first place than try to fix it afterward.

Taking care of your cat’s dental health is a long term process. Like taking care of your own dental health, you need to be consistent to have the benefits. This is what you should be doing to keep on top of your cat’s dental health.

Teeth Brushing

Brushing a pet’s teeth is not an easy task, but it is important. Tooth brushing is the best way to prevent all kinds of cat dental problems. You should aim to brush often enough to stop any plague on your cat’s teeth turning into tartar.

If you’re struggling to brush your cat’s teeth, a vet should be able to help you figure out how to make your cat comfortable while it is done.

Vet Visits

Regular vet check-ups are important for your cat’s overall health, but they are particularly important for their dental care. A cat needs to be taken to the vet to have regular check-ups on the state of their teeth, so any problems don’t develop into a serious condition.

Checking Out a Problem

If your cat is displaying the symptoms of a dental problem listed above or you’re conscious that their dental health hasn’t been taken care of, you should take them to the vet. Having symptoms is enough cause to take them to the vet to get checked out, rather than just waiting for their next scheduled check-up.

It can be hard to examine your cat’s teeth and mouth at home. So you should try to take them to the vet whenever they seem to have a problem with their teeth.

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Keeping a Cat in Great Oral Health

By far, the best way to deal with dental problems for your cat is to avoid it in the first place with prevention. With more than four-fifths of middle-aged cats developing a health problem with their teeth, prevention is really important. Brushing a cat’s teeth might not be the most fun activity, but if you spend some time with your pet practicing good oral health you can make sure they avoid those painful teeth issues in the future.

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