Common Dental Problems in Cats
Cats, just like humans, need attention paid to their teeth; dental problems can lead to larger health problems down the road. Additionally, dental problems can cause pain, which decreases your pet’s quality of life. There are several feline dental problems, but the majority of them are due to poor dental hygiene. When plaque and tartar are allowed to accumulate on a cat’s teeth, gingivitis, periodontal disease, endodontic disease, tooth abscess, and stomatitis are just around the corner—not to mention the bad breath!
Why Healthy Teeth are So Important in Cats
Cats are, by their nature, carnivores. In the wild they normally catch and eat their prey while it is still alive, rending bones, fur, feathers, teeth and claws with their own teeth. This process actually serves as a natural “tooth brushing” of sorts, largely preventing the accumulation of plaque and tartar on the cat’s teeth.
Plaque is a biofilm, something like an organic membrane, that can build up on teeth. Plaque forms from a mixture of saliva, food particles, bacteria, and minerals. If it is not removed from the teeth, plaque hardens and becomes tartar, a yellowish coating that can’t be brushed away—a veterinarian has to scrape it off with a special tool.
If tartar is not removed, it eventually spreads and begins to encroach on the gum line, and eventually will push its way under the gum. This exposes the tooth’s sensitive roots to bacteria, which can invade the tooth’s pulp and the mouth’s underlying support structures. The cat’s immune system responds by trying to rid itself of the bacteria, which results in the cat’s oral tissues becoming red, sensitive, and inflamed. Eventually, major damage occurs, including abscesses, tooth loss, and serious infections.
Types of Dental Problems in Cats
- Gingivitis. Gingivitis is the first, mildest stage of periodontal disease, also known as gum disease. In gingivitis the plaque and tartar have invaded the gum line and inflammation has begun to happen. Your cat’s gums will appear red and a bit swollen; he or she may have bad breath, problems eating, and their gums may bleed occasionally. This stage of periodontal disease is reversible with proper dental care. Contact your veterinarian to recommend a cat teeth cleaning product, such as Leba III Dental Spray, Plaque Attack, or EvoraPet, all of which promote healthy bacterial flora in the cat’s mouth and discourage plaque and tartar buildup.
- Periodontal Disease. When gingivitis is allowed to continue, it eventually worsens until it becomes periodontal disease, or full-blown gum disease. Your cat’s gums will be red and painful, they will avoid food and lose weight, they may paw at their faces or jerk away in pain if you handle their jaws. You need to visit a veterinarian, who may recommend an antibiotic treatment and perform de-scaling, which usually requires the cat to be anesthetized. If periodontal disease progresses, the ligaments and bones that hold the teeth in can be damages, which can result in tooth abscess, endodontic disease, stomatitis, tooth loss, and even cardiac problems.
- Endodontic Disease. Once the gum line has been compromised and bacteria has entered the internal mouth structures, the tooth’s roots are vulnerable to invasion by bacteria, too, via the small openings at the base of each root. When bacteria inflame and infect the pulp, or soft internal part, of the tooth, this is called endodontic disease. Endodontic disease is very painful. You may notice localized swelling, pain to the touch, fever, difficulty eating, and, if the pulp necrotizes (dies), the tooth will become greyish or discolored. Endodontic disease is usually treated with antibiotics and either a root canal or extraction.
- Tooth Abscess. A tooth abscess can be the result of periodontal disease, or it can happen due to trauma, such as a broken or chipped tooth. Regardless of the source of the infection, a deep cavity forms beneath the tooth or in the gum, often filling with pus, which seeps out. A severe tooth abscess can even form a hole in the cat’s face. Symptoms of a tooth abscess include loss of appetite, lethargy, fever, bad breath, pain to the touch, swelling, bleeding from the nose, and discharge. A tooth abscess needs to be treated with antibiotics, then the veterinarian will usually extract the tooth.
- Stomatitis. Stomatitis disease in cats is basically a mouth-wide inflammation of the oral tissues. No one knows why it happens, but it often appears along with periodontal disease. Stomatitis causes vivid inflammation of the gums, swelling, pain, difficulty eating, and bad breath. Veterinarians sometimes try to manage stomatitis with medicines like antibiotics and steroids, but the most effective treatment for this debilitating dental condition is surgical. Extracting all the teeth behind the cat’s canines, including the inflamed gum tissue, is very effective. The cat usually recovers quickly and suffers no ill effects from losing those teeth, usually resuming healthy eating right away, and relapses are practically unheard-of.
Cat Teeth Cleaning Products
It is apparent that good cat oral hygiene is necessary if you want to ensure your furry friend’s long, happy life. If you or your cat just can’t handle regular teeth brushing, then consider one of the new cat teeth cleaning products that don’t require brushing. Here are some of veterinarian favorites.
- Plaque Attack. Plaque Attack is an oral spray made from all-natural, human-quality ingredients such as neem oil, rosemary and mint extracts, and other substances that promote the development of balanced oral flora. Simply spray Plaque Attack into your cat’s mouth every day, and you will notice an immediate reduction in plaque and tartar buildup—no brushing necessary! The formula also gets rid of cat bad breath.
- Leba III Dental Spray. Leba III is also all-natural, and it is also an oral spray. Produced by the prestigious LebaLabs group, Leba III Dental Spray also encourages healthy oral balance and discourages the formation of plaque and tartar. Your cat’s breath will smell better and they will feel better, too.
- EvoraPet. EvoraPet is a tasteless, odorless powder that can be sprinkled on your cat’s food. It naturally whitens teeth, improves cat bad breath, and reduces plaque and tartar formation, which is good for preventing gingivitis and periodontal disease. The fact that you do not have to even apply it directly to your cat’s mouth is an even bigger plus!
Our pets are important to us, and they deserve nothing but the best from us in terms of how we care for their health. Good oral hygiene in cats is a must, for preventing serious problems such as gingivitis, periodontal disease, tooth abscess, stomatitis, and endodontic disease. Consult with your veterinarian if you have any questions about proper cat tooth-brushing procedures, or even better, choose a no-brushing cat teeth cleaning product such as Plaque Attack, Leba III Dental Spray, or EvoraPet, which make keeping your cat’s teeth white, clean and healthy easy—not to mention getting rid of cat bad breath!