Feline Dental Disease

Common Feline Dental Disease

The most common dental diseases in cats are gingivitis, periodontitis, and tooth resorption.  Feline stomatitis also can accompany gingivitis in some cats.

Gingivitis

Gingivitis is a condition in which the gums around the teeth become inflamed (red, swollen, and painful). This inflammation is usually the result of a process that begins with the buildup of plaque, a film that harbors bacteria, on the teeth. If plaque is not regularly removed, plaque migrates deeper, ultimately to the subginival region, where a cat’s immune system may mount a response to the bacteria, resulting in the inflammation known as gingivitis.  When plaque becomes hardened by absorbing minerals from both the saliva and from the gingiva itself, it is referred to as calculus or tartar. 

Periodontitis

If gingivitis is not controlled, it can progress to periodontitis, a condition that can lead to loose teeth and tooth loss.  Eventually it cannot be reversed.  With periodontitis, the tissues that attach the tooth to the underlying gums and bone are weakened because of damaging substances produced by disease-causing bacteria and the inflammation caused by the cat’s own immune system.

Tooth Resorption

Tooth resorption is a process in which the tooth structure breaks down, beginning inside the tooth, and often progressing to other parts of the tooth. Tooth resorption is the most common cause of tooth loss in cats, and between 30 and 70% of cats show some sign of this destructive process. The cause of tooth resorption is not known.  Tooth resorption can be very painful.

Feline Stomatitis

Feline stomatitis is a condition in cats where severe inflammation, or sores, affect the pink mucous lining of your cat’s mouth.  Stomatitis refers to a more generalized inflammation, whereby most and possibly all of the oral tissues including the gums, tongue, inner surfaces of the lips, and/or the floor and roof of the mouth are affected. Stomatitis is a condition caused by a cat’s immune response to bacteria in the cat’s mouth.  It is not fully known yet why some cats have a severe reaction to their oral bacteria and why others do not.  Feline stomatitis is often very painful and causes a decreased appetite due to the pain.

Signs of Dental Disease in Cats

Please call us today to schedule a dental exam and cleaning for your cat if he or she is exhibiting any of these symptoms:

  • Swelling, redness, discomfort, and, in severe cases, bleeding where the gums and the teeth meet (the gingival margin). 
  • Cat may be hesitant to eat or has stopped eating.
  • Cat turns his or her head unusually while eating.
  • Drooling.
  • Will only eat soft foods.
  • Lack of self-grooming.
  • Exposure of tooth roots.
  • Loose teeth.

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