Learning About Rodent Pets

Preventing Dental Disease In Your Cat

by Neil Turner

Your cat will put up with a variety of health problems without a complaint. That includes anything wrong with their teeth. Like their human owners, cats can develop tooth and gum disease. If not addressed, the dental issues can become so severe that the only treatment is to pull all of your cat's teeth. You can keep your cat from going through this painful process by watching out for the following signs and getting your cat to the animal hospital should you spot one of these dental issues.

Buildup of Brown or Yellow Material on the Teeth

Food particles stuck to the teeth create plaque, which hardens over time into tartar. The tartar creates a place where bacteria can work on the tooth enamel resulting in tooth decay. When the tartar appears at or under the gum line, the soft tissue becomes inflamed, causing gum disease. Before serious problems develop, your veterinarian can scrape the plaque and tartar off of your cat's teeth.

Pink and Swollen Gums

When your cat's gums are irritated by the tartar, they become inflamed and turn a bright pink color. Gingivitis is the early form of gum disease and appears as painful inflamed gums. The gums begin to pull away from the base of the teeth. Your cat's breath will become foul smelling as infection develops under the gum line. Your veterinarian will need to do a deep cleaning to remove bacteria from the gums. They may also put your cat on antibiotics to stop any infection.

Bright Red Gums

As the disease progresses, the tissues pull even further away from the teeth creating a space in which food and bacteria become trapped. The gums become infected and a yellowish pus may develop around the base of the teeth. Some teeth may become loose in their sockets. Your cat may paw at their mouth now and begin to drool. They may avoid their food dish because of the pain they have while eating. This infection requires long-term antibiotics to kill the bacteria. Your vet may need to pull one or more teeth to clear up the most severe areas of infection.

Red and Inflamed Tissues Throughout the Mouth

In advanced cases of dental disease, the infection can spread to all of the soft tissues in the mouth and lips. Your cat's mouth will look bright red. This is called stomatitis and is a severe form of infection. Your cat may paw at their mouth frequently and howl or cry when eating. To clear this major form of dental disease, your veterinarian at the animal hospital may have to pull all of your cat's teeth and place them on heavy antibiotics for several months.