Dental disease is one of the most common and preventable problems diagnosed in cats at veterinary visits. Most owners aren’t aware their cat has a dental health issue other than noticing bad breath. Bad breath is actually a sign of periodontal disease – a healthy mouth should not have a foul odor.
By age three, most cats have some form of periodontal disease. Periodontal disease begins with accumulation of plaque and tartar along the gum line, which leads to chronic infection and inflammation, gum recession, and loss of supportive structures (periodontal ligament and bone) of the teeth. Cats with periodontal disease constantly release bacteria from their mouths into their bloodstream (i.e. bacteremia), resulting in inflammatory changes in the heart, liver, and kidney tissue in otherwise healthy animals. Periodontal disease can exacerbate other health conditions in cats, in addition to resulting in a painful mouth and loss of teeth.
There are other specific dental health problems particular to cats, including resorptive lesions of the teeth, and gingivostomatitis.
- Resorptive lesions (also called FORL or neck lesions) most commonly affect the premolar teeth and result in erosion of enamel and dentin, and potentially fracture of affected teeth.
- Gingivostomatitis in cats is a condition resulting from in-appropriate immune response to plaque on the teeth, causing severe inflammation of the mucosa (moist surfaces in the mouth).
Periodontal disease, resorptive lesions, and gingivostomatitis are often quite painful conditions, though some cats may initially not show any symptoms. Most frequently, cats with oral pain “suffer in silence” unnecessarily.
Many of these conditions can be prevented and treated through routine dental care. This can involve both home dental treatment such as brushing, dental treats and dental rinses, and a comprehensive oral health assessment and treatment plan (COHAT), which is done by your cat’s veterinarian and ideally should be done annually for all cats.
Especially Cats Veterinary Hospital
1339 Taraval St San Francisco, CA 94116
Monday – Friday: 8:00am – 5:00pm