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Common Dental Problems in Cats & How to Prevent Them

Dental problems in cats can cause severe pain and lead to other health issues. In this article, our veterinarians in Santa Clarita will explain how to identify dental problems in your cat, discuss the most prevalent dental diseases in cats, and provide information on how to prevent and treat these issues.

Your Cat's Oral Health

It is crucial to take care of your cat's oral health as it is directly linked to their overall wellbeing. Your furry friend relies on their mouth, teeth, and gums to eat and communicate, and if these structures are damaged or diseased, it can cause pain and discomfort, hindering their ability to perform these essential functions.

Moreover, the bacteria and infection that cause oral health problems in cats can spread throughout their body if left untreated, causing harm to vital organs such as their liver, kidneys, and heart. This can lead to severe health issues and reduce the lifespan of your feline companion. Therefore, it's essential to look after your cat's oral health to ensure they live a happy and healthy life.

How To Spot Dental Issues in Cats

Different conditions may display varying symptoms, but if you observe any of the behaviors or symptoms listed below, it is possible that your cat is experiencing dental disease. Some of the most prevalent signs of dental disease in cats are:

  • Bad Breath (halitosis)
  • Excessive drooling
  • Weight loss
  • Difficulty with or slow eating
  • Missing or loose teeth
  • Visible tartar
  • Bleeding, swollen or noticeably red gums
  • Pawing at their teeth or mouth

If you notice any of the above signs of dental disease in your cat, bring them to your Santa Clarita vet as soon as possible for examinations. The sooner your cat's dental disease is diagnosed and treated, the better for your cat's long-term health.

Common Cat Dental Diseases

There are three common oral health conditions that can affect your cat's teeth, gums, and other structures.

Periodontal Disease

Did you know that around 70% of cats will develop periodontal disease by the age of 3? This disease is caused by bacteria found in plaque, which is a soft film of bacteria and food debris that accumulates on teeth throughout the day. If left uncleaned, plaque will harden and turn into tartar that extends below the gum line. When this happens, the bacteria become trapped and begin to irritate and erode the structures that support your cat's teeth. If left untreated, periodontal disease can lead to severe infection, resulting in loose and missing teeth, and even organ damage as the bacteria spread throughout the body. It's important to take care of your cat's teeth to prevent this from happening.


Feline stomatitis refers to a painful inflammation of your cat's gums, cheeks, and tongue, which can lead to the development of ulcers. While Persians and Himalayans are more prone to this condition, it can affect any cat. Cats suffering from stomatitis experience severe pain, which can cause them to reduce their food intake, leading to malnourishment. Mild cases of stomatitis can be treated with at-home care, but severe cases require surgical intervention.

Tooth Resorption

Tooth resorption in cats describes the gradual destruction of a tooth or multiple teeth in your cat's mouth. This is a fairly common condition in cats, potentially affecting up to three-quarters of middle-aged and older cats.

When a cat suffers from tooth resorption, its body begins to break down its tooth's hard outer layer, loosening it and causing pain. This destruction occurs below your cat's gum line, so it can be challenging to detect without a dental X-ray. However, if your cat suddenly develops a preference for soft foods or swallows their food without chewing, they may be suffering from this condition.

Preventing Dental Issues in Cats

To prevent dental problems in your cat, it is recommended to brush and clean their teeth regularly. This helps to keep their teeth and gums healthy and prevents plaque buildup that can lead to infections or other issues. Additionally, taking your cat for a professional dental examination and cleaning once a year can help maintain their oral health. At Sweetwater Veterinary Clinic, we offer dental appointments for cats that are similar to a visit to the veterinarian.

It's best to start cleaning your cat's teeth and gums while they are still a kitten, as they can quickly adapt to the process. If your cat doesn't allow you to clean their teeth, dental treats and food are also available to help maintain their oral health. Taking care of your cat's teeth can help prevent dental problems from developing in the first place.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Is your cat showing signs of dental health problems? Contact our Santa Clarita vets at Sweetwater Veterinary Clinic today to book an examination for your feline friend.

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