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Common Cat Dental Problems

What are common cat dental problems? In this Vet Minute, contributing veterinarian, Dr. Amy Hanson, discusses commonly seen cat teeth issues and dental disease in cats, emphasizing the importance of regular dental care. Topics include cat gingivitis, stomatitis in cats, and feline restorative lesions.

Cat Teeth Problems What Dental Problems Do Cats Have?


Common Cat Dental Problems
Common Cat Dental Problems

Cats often experience several dental issues. Cats are unique creatures with their own specific problems. One common issue, especially in young and juvenile cats, is feline gingivitis. This condition is often associated with the development of permanent teeth and is more prevalent in certain breeds like Maine Coon, Abyssinians, and Ragdolls. Gingivitis in cats, also known as red gum disease, causes redness and inflammation of the gums.

Another major issue is resorptive lesions, which are painful disintegrations of the tooth caused by the cat's immune system attacking the tooth. This process affects the pulp cavity, where the blood and nerve supply are located, and usually requires tooth extraction. Stomatitis is another problem, ranging from mild to severe inflammation of the gingival tissue. In extreme cases, full mouth extractions are necessary to stop the immune system from attacking the teeth. Treatment can vary from dental prophylaxis and medications to full extractions.

How Do I Know If My Cat Has a Tooth Problem?

Cats often hide their illnesses, making it difficult to detect dental problems. However, there are symptoms to watch for. Cats may continue to eat despite mouth pain, but subtle signs include dropping food, chewing on one side, pawing at the mouth, vocalizing while eating, or jerking away from food due to pain. If untreated, bacteria from the mouth can enter the bloodstream and cause infections in other organs. Dental pain and stress can also lead to hormonal imbalances and other health issues.

Signs of dental problems may include unexplained weight loss or unusual grooming behaviors. For example, one of my cats groomed all the fur off his back legs due to a resorptive lesion. Once the affected tooth was removed, the behavior stopped. Regular veterinary exams are essential to catch and address these issues early.

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