Cat Teeth Problems

Symptoms for Cat Teeth Problems

Does your cat have bad breath? If so, it may be suffering from problems with its teeth or gums. Dental problems in cats can be serious, not to mention painful for the cat. If your cat shows symptoms of problems with its teeth, a trip to the veterinarian may be needed in order to diagnose and treat the underlying cause of the symptoms.

Dental problems in cats are often overlooked by the owners because their cat may not like to be handled, especially to open its mouth. The most common symptom of a dental problem is bad breath. It is not normal for a cat to have bad breath, no matter what the age of the cat.

Another symptom is drooling, although it may be difficult to detect since cats tend to clean themselves constantly. Some cats with dental problems may not groom themselves at all. Cats may also have difficulty eating, especially hard food. Their gums may be red, swollen or bleeding. Additionally, the teeth may be discolored or have hard pieces of yellow plaque stuck to them, especially around the gum lines.

Cat Teeth Problems


One of the more common dental problems in cats is gingivitis. Gingivitis is a condition characterized by swelling of the gums and symptoms can include drooling, red or swollen gums, bleeding gums and bad breath. It can affect one or more of the teeth. This disease can range from mild to very serious if left untreated.

Periodontal Disease

Periodontal disease is the most common dental disease in cats. Also known as gum disease, periodontal disease occurs when plaque forms on the teeth due to an excess of bacteria in the mouth. The tartar buildup clings to the teeth along the gum lines, which leads to swollen gums. If treated early, periodontal disease in cats can be reversed. If left untreated, more serious problems can occur such as infections in the gums and tooth loss.

Endodontic Disease or Pulpitis

A less common dental problem in cats is endodontic disease. This disease is also called pulpitis, which is swelling of the pulp inside the tooth. A telltale sign of endodontic disease is a gray tooth, although there may also be swelling, pain and a reluctance to eat or groom. Most likely the tooth will have to be extracted, as the only other option is root canal and many veterinarians do not offer this extensive type of dental service.

Abscess in Their Tooth

Cats may also have an abscess in their tooth. Abscesses indicate a more serious dental problem and need immediate medical care. A cat with a tooth abscess will be in a high level of pain and may refuse to eat or groom themselves. There may be swelling in the face or bleeding in the mouth. The veterinarian will most likely give the cat an antibiotic and may have to drain the abscess under anesthesia.

Take Your Cat to the Veterinarian

If you notice problems with your cat’s teeth, take your cat to the veterinarian for a check-up. The veterinarian will give your cat a full exam and especially inspect the mouth and gums. They may even take an x-ray to determine the extent of the damage or to see if the problem has affected the jaw bone. Your cat may need a professional cleaning by the veterinarian’s office if its teeth show a significant amount of plaque that cannot be removed with brushing. Your cat would need to be anesthetized in order to thoroughly clean the teeth. While under anesthesia, the veterinarian may even have to remove teeth that are abscessed or broken.

How to Prevent Cat Teeth Problems in the Future

To prevent your cat from having dental problems, buy a cat toothbrush and toothpaste at a local pet store. Your cat may resist brushing at first, by will become used to it over time. It may be difficult, but prevention is the key to keeping your cat’s teeth healthy over their lifetime.

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