Dogs are good at hiding signs of oral pain, but cats are even better – cats are experts at hiding dental pain!
Cats will continue to eat and act normally regardless of some serious dental disease forming in their mouths. This is why it is so very important that we have our cat’s teeth checked regularly by our veterinarian.
The two most common dental problems in cats are:
- tooth resorption
- periodontal disease
Tooth resorption is a rather painful condition.
The tooth substance gets “eaten” away, or resorbs.
This resorption leads to exposure of the inner parts (the sensitive parts) of the tooth and eventually tooth loss.
Because this is so difficult to see from a normal outside view of the teeth, a dental x-ray is required for diagnosis and treatment. Your veterinarian will examine your cat for early lesions and treat them before they become advanced and painful.
Tooth resorption affects many cats. This is why it is so important to visit with your veterinarian and have a full-mouth x-ray or full dental check-up. Unfortunately, the causes of tooth resorption are unknown and cannot be conclusively linked to diet, vaccines, or other diseases. However, once a tooth has been affected, the process cannot be stopped. Extraction is then the best treatment option to relieve pain and avoid any infections from spreading.
Tooth resorption is one of the common oral abnormalities seen in cats. In the past, tooth resorption was referred to as a cavity or lesions. The premolars of the lower jaw are most commonly affected, but tooth resorption can be found on any tooth. Approximately half of cats older than three years of age will have at least one tooth affected.
Periodontal disease starts as gingivitis.
If gingivitis is left untreated, it progresses to loss of attachment around the teeth i.e. the tooth becomes loose inside the gum.
Gingivitis and periodontal disease are caused by the build-up of plaque along the gumline.
Cats have tiny teeth and small roots which makes any should make any amount of plaque sitting on the gum line a serious cause for concern. Any small amount of disease can be detrimental to your cat and can easily lead to tooth loss.
Periodontal disease is best prevented by daily brushing, which can be difficult in such tiny mouths.
Other options for taking care of your cat’s teeth at home include dental wipes. Dental wipes such as a soft gauze rolled on your finger, are a very useful alternative to brushing and just the act of wiping the teeth can help remove plaque, which is a huge benefit.
Good dental health in our furry friends can lead to longer and happier lives, so don’t forget to have your cat’s itty bitty kitty teeth checked out!
~ Excerpts from an article by:
Dr Mary Buelow (DMV), Board-Certified Veterinary Dentist
Dr Jan Bellows, DVM, Dipl. AVDC, ABVP