When it comes to cat dental problems, most of us think of feline gingivitis. This is one issue, but there are others as well. Even with diligent dental care, cat tooth problems can surface.
Gingivitis in Cats:
This is what most folks are referring to when they mention cat dental problems. Just like human gingivitis, this is characterized by red, inflamed gums. They may even be swollen or bleed. Some cats are more prone to gingivitis, just as some people seem to be. It is not particular to any breed - any cat can be afflicted.
As you might have guessed, the best treatment is to brush your cat's teeth. It's not as hard as it sounds! There are special toothbrushes, meaty-flavored toothpaste, and it can become a quick (and even fun) daily ritual. It's super important to take care of gingivitis before it descends into periodontal disease.
Tarter and Cleanings:
When you visit the vet for your annual check-up, he or she will look at your kitty's teeth. They may have a build-up of tarter. This is fairly common, especially since most pet owners don't brush their pet's teeth.
When people visit the dentist for their regular cleaning, any tarter gets removed. Well, in order to do this for pets, the procedure involves another separate appointment. Your cat will most likely undergo anesthesia. Then your veterinarian can clean the teeth and make any extractions, if necessary.
It certainly sounds unpleasant, but rest assured that your beloved friend will feel much better for it. Cats are very good at masking their discomfort. So even if s/he seems fine, his or her cat dental problems may be causing some pain. It's better to get it taken care of properly.
Lesions, Polyps, Ulcers & Tumors:
These various cat dental problems require immediate attention. Sometimes they are also referred to as cavities. Many times they are found to be benign (not cancerous) when a biopsy is done. Your vet will remove the offending lesion, polyp or tumor to get your cat feeling all better.
Extractions are also commonly performed with treatment, sometimes multiple ones. A common cause is the spread of gingivitis (which is a type of infection). Other times a cause can't exactly be nailed down - these things just happen. For cats with lesions, cavities, tumors or polyps, your veterinarian may decide to perform certain tests to rule out other causes and conditions.
Treatments for mouth ulcers include laser treatments and various medications. Sometimes a "try and see" approach is needed. Also, switching from plastic to stainless steel dishes is recommended.
Feline Orthodontic Problems:
Usually we are talking about braces on humans when we mention orthodontic issues, but this one of the cat dental problems to mention! Although rare in purebred Maine Coon Cats, mixes and other breeds may encounter this.
It is more common in cats with pronounced jaws, like the Persian. The bottom teeth may protrude, possibly becoming visible outside the mouth. Again, proper veterinary treatment will take care of this.
Signs and Symptoms of Cat Dental Problems:
Cats are notoriously good at hiding their pain (it's an instinct so they are not perceived as weak in the wild). You may notice a hesitancy to eat, extra salivation, or occasionally a pawing at the mouth.
Some cats will act hungry, then they won't eat because it is painful. Some refuse dry food and will only eat canned food - they are sometimes assumed to simply be a finicky eater. Often there are no signs or symptoms other than the visible problem in the mouth.
Cat Dental Problems Can Have A Whole-Body Effect:
When gingivitis is left unchecked, it can progress to periodontal disease. This is marked by irreversible damage to the teeth, their roots and sockets. The infection eats away at the tooth and enters the bloodstream. There are organs where the infection can then settle: the kidneys, lungs, liver, pancreas and the heart as well as pretty much any organ with a blood supply. Infection and inflammation of these areas is sometimes traced back to dental disease. All the more reason to avoid cat dental problems!
With regular attention, and proper veterinary care, cat dental problems can be kept in check. And even when a problem arises, as they can do even with the best care, treatment is usually easy and successful. Many cats start to act like kittens again, after having their dental problems taken care of!
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