Dental disease is very common in cats.
It is thought to occur in at least 85% of cats over 5 years of age! The problem often remains hidden, as looking in your cat’s mouth is not always easy.
Here at 608 Vets, we understand that your cat’s dental hygiene is just as important as any other routine and preventative treatment. This is why we recommend preventative dental care.
Like humans, cats can develop a build-up of tartar, which can lead to tooth decay and gum disease. Brushing your cat’s teeth once or twice a day is the best option for good oral hygiene. Here at 608 Vets, our team would be happy to assist you with answering any questions you may have, as well as advising you on the recommended products or dental diets for your cat.
Symptoms of dental disease in cats
Resorbtive or neck lesions are a common feature of teeth problems in cats. These can start from a young adulthood. The enamel and crown appear to dissolve slowly leaving areas that are very sensitive or painful. Eventually the crown weakens so much it breaks away and only the roots remain. These teeth and roots are best removed to allow relief from the pain.
Apart from bad breath, you may notice a build-up of plaque – which is a soft off-white material on the teeth. This can be removed by brushing. Later this becomes brown and mineralises to form hard tartar (also called dental calculus).
The gums may appear red and inflamed (gingivitis), and later the gum margins start to recede exposing the roots of the teeth and larger areas of inflammation and ulcers may be present. When the tissues that support the teeth are involved, it is called periodontal disease and the teeth become loose and eventually fall out. Painful tooth root abscesses may also form.
Unfortunately, cats can also suffer from severe inflammation in the mouth, sometimes associated with some feline viruses. These can be difficult cases to treat, but we have many successes along the way, with perseverance and the support of their owners.
What are the signs of dental disease in cats?
If you detect any of the above signs, please contact the 608 Vets team in Solihull to book an appointment for a vet to examine your cat as soon as possible.
Is dental disease serious?
YES, dental or mouth disease is serious for two main reasons:
1. Cats with dental disease will be in discomfort or pain. Animals always try to hide problems. Therefore, only some will show obvious signs of pain including:
- They may be irritable
- Difficulty eating, especially hard kibble, or pawing/rubbing at the mouth
- Resent being handled around the head
- The jaw may ‘chatter’ when touched
2. Bacteria associated with dental disease can travel via the bloodstream to cause infections in other parts of the body, including the kidneys and the heart.
How to prevent dental disease in cats
Brushing to remove plaque and tartar is a good idea in theory, some cats will accept it. If you want to learn how to brush your pet’s teeth, make a nurse appointment and we can try to teach you.
If you suspect your pet already has dental problem, you should make an appointment with your vet.
The 608 Vets team would be happy to help with advice on introducing this to your cat.
It can also be beneficial to have a scale and polish performed regularly to clean the teeth thoroughly. This is similar to the treatment we would receive from a dental hygienist. These are done under a short general anaesthetic as cats won’t sit in one position for a prolonged period and we must ensure their safety and the team’s safety when in the vicinity of sharp teeth!
Remember, our Pet Health for Life plan members qualify for discounts on lifestage diets, examinations, in-house laboratory work, and dental work and shop items such as toothpaste, brushes and dental chews. In addition, many other benefits. Find out more about how you can save with Pet Health Life plan.
Treating dental disease in cats at 608 Vets in Solihull
If dental disease has reached an advanced stage, there are a number of treatment options available at 608 Vets in Solihull:
- Your vet may recommend a blood sample prior to having dental work to check that your pet is fit and well enough for an anaesthetic; that there are no other underlying problems that could be making things worse, e.g. kidney disease.
- A dental, scale and polish, plus extractions if needed, are performed under a general anaesthetic.
- x-rays may be needed to assess the crowns and roots.
- If infection is well established, antibiotics may have to be prescribed before and/or after dental treatment.
- Pain relief and anti-inflammatory medications are also often required.
Cats can still eat a wide variety of foods, often including hard pellets, even with no teeth. The most important thing is that they have a comfortable, healthy mouth. However, as some of these procedures need a general anaesthetic, it is best to try to keep their teeth clean, rather than rely on anaesthetics and dental scaling, if possible.
Feline odontoclastic resorptive lesions (FORLs)
Cats also get another form of dental disease known as feline odontoclastic resorptive lesions (FORLs). It has an unknown cause, but 75% of cats are thought to be affected. It is particularly common in cats over five years but can occur at any age.
In these lesions, part of the tooth is eaten away by the tooth itself, forming a small hole in the enamel close to the gum line. These lesions are very painful for cats and can lead to tooth fractures as they weaken the teeth. They require extraction to resolve.