Good oral health is the key to good overall health in both humans and animals. Because animals make use of their teeth so often, it is very common for them to encounter dental problems. Many studies have been conducted on several dental diseases in cats. Not surprisingly, these diseases have been found to be the root cause of many other severe diseases in cats. According to vets, about 85% of cats above three years of age suffer with some form of dental disease. Dental diseases become more prominent as our pets start aging. Bad breath and plaque are the first symptoms which can be helpful enough to spot any dental issues in the initial stages. Here’s a list of 7 most common dental problems in cats.
Plaque is a bacterial film that develops on the teeth. This is the initial stage of any bacterial infection and can turn into a real issue if left untreated. Food particles stuck in between the teeth or along the gum line when mixed with saliva form plaque. This is a perfect breeding ground for bacteria and can severely damage the teeth over a period of time. If identified early, normal oral care coupled with advice from your vet can help keep plaque away.
Plaque when left undisturbed, develops into a hard, calcified substance. This calcified plaque is usually known as tartar or calculus. Unlike plaque, tartar is hard enough to be removed by brushing. Vets remove it by performing dental scaling after putting your cat under the influence of an anesthetic. Tartar build-up irritates gums and causes inflammation too.
Gingivitis is the inflammation found in the gums of cats. It usually starts by affecting one tooth and gradually spreads across gums around several teeth and causes inflammation and infection. The infection often starts from the gums. This slowly spreads by infecting ligaments and then to the bones supporting the teeth. If ignored, the teeth become loose or may even fall out.
4. Periodontal disease
This is the most common disease observed in cats. It is usually the advanced stage of gingivitis when infection spreads well below the gum line. Delayed treatment can result in inflammation of gums, infection and tooth loss. Large amounts of calculus and breaking ligaments indicate periodontal disease. Also, bacterial infection and pus formation start making it difficult for the tooth to stay in place. In many of the cases, tooth extraction remains as the only available option because of severe bacterial infection.
Stomatitis is a very painful oral disease which may even become life threatening for cats. It can affect all breeds of cats irrespective of their age. However, Somalis, Himalayan and Persians are more prone to the disease. Bad breath and inflamed, red gums are the most common symptoms of stomatitis. If left unattended, the infection may even spread up to the throat which makes eating a difficult job for cats. In severe cases, cats suffer from loss of appetite leading to malnutrition. Though, maintaining good oral hygiene may turn out to be helpful in the initial stages, surgical removal of the affected tissues and tooth work best later.
6. Bad Breath
This is a common problem with most cats. Therefore, cat owners fail to detect the severity of halitosis often. Bad breath is an indication of many diseases in cats including oral infection, kidney disorders or diabetes. You might want to visit a vet if you find bad breath accompanied with loss in appetite, diarrhea or vomiting. Sometimes, it turns out to be the only indication of a bigger underlying disease.
Cats suffer from fractured teeth very often. Pawing at the mouth, eating from one side of the mouth and hypersalivation are some of the most common signs that cats show in case of a fractured tooth. While fractures can occur in premolars too, tip of the canines or fawns mostly get fractured. Pulp tissue (soft tissue containing nerves) is usually seen to be extended till the tip of the teeth making it very painful for cats even in cases of tip fractures. Before deciding for an extraction, it is important to be assessed if the pulp cavity is exposed or not. If just the tip is fractured then extraction is not required. However, fractured teeth shouldn’t be ignored as they may lead to infection and swelling in the gums.