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Common Cat Dental Problems

Dental problems in cats can cause them lot of pain and lead to other health problems. Today, our Springfield veterinary team explains how to recognize dental health issues in your cat, the most common dental diseases in cats, and how to prevent or treat these issues.

Your Cat's Oral Health

Your cat's oral health is critical to its overall health and well-being. Your cat eats and vocalizes using its mouth, teeth, and gums, so when its oral structures become diseased or damaged and cease to function properly, your cat experiences pain, limiting its ability to eat and communicate normally. 

Furthermore, the bacteria and infections that cause many oral health issues in cats will not remain in their mouths. If left untreated, the infection and bacteria in your cat's mouth can spread throughout their body, causing damage to organs such as their kidneys, liver, and heart, as well as having a negative impact on their overall health and longevity.

How common are teeth problems in cats?

Teeth problems are quite common in cats, with some studies showing that up to 70% of cats over the age of three have some form of dental disease. Common issues include tartar buildup, gingivitis, and tooth decay, which can lead to pain, infection, and difficulty eating if left untreated. Regular dental check-ups and cleanings can help prevent these problems and maintain your cat's oral health.

Cat Dental Disease Symptoms

Specific symptoms will differ between conditions; however, if you notice any of the following behaviors or symptoms, there is a chance that your cat has a tooth problem.

Some of the most common symptoms of cat teeth problems can include:

  • 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

Bring your cat to your Springfield veterinarian as soon as possible if you notice any of the above signs of dental disease. The sooner your cat's dental disease is identified and treated, the better off he or she will be in the long run.

Common Cat Dental Diseases

While there are numerous health issues that can affect your cat's gums, teeth, and other oral structures, these three are especially common:

Periodontal Disease

Approximately 70% of all cats will develop periodontal disease by the age of three.

This disease is caused by bacteria in plaque, which is a soft film of bacteria and food debris that forms on teeth throughout the day. If your cat's plaque is not regularly brushed or cleaned, it will harden and form tartar below their gum line.

When bacteria become trapped beneath your cat's gum line and against their teeth, it causes irritation and erosion of the structures that support their teeth. Periodontal disease, if not treated, will cause a serious infection of your cat's gums, loose and missing teeth, and organ damage as the bacteria spreads throughout the body.


Feline stomatitis is an incredibly painful inflammation and ulceration (an opening of sores) of your cat's gums, cheeks, and tongue.

Persians and Himalayans are predisposed to developing this condition, but any cat can develop stomatitis.

Cats suffering from stomatitis are often in extreme pain and have reduced appetites because of that. In some cases, cats will become malnourished because it is so painful for them to eat. If your cat develops a mild case, at-home care might be enough to treat their stomatitis. But severe cases require surgical intervention.

Tooth Resorption

Tooth resorption in cats refers to the gradual destruction of one or more teeth in your cat's mouth. This is a fairly common condition in cats, potentially affecting up to 75% of middle-aged and older cats. 

When a cat develops tooth resorption, the body begins to break down the tooth's hard outer layer, loosening it and causing pain. Because this destruction occurs beneath your cat's gum line, without a dental X-ray it can be difficult to spot. This condition may be present if you suddenly notice your cat prefers soft foods or swallows their food without chewing.

Preventing Dental Issues in Cats

The absolute best way to help prevent the development of dental problems with your cat's teeth is routine brushing and cleaning your cat's mouth. Your cat's teeth and gums will have a much better chance of remaining healthy if plaque is brushed or wiped away before it can cause damage or infection. To help keep your kitty's teeth in tip-top condition, bring your pet in for a professional dental examination and cleaning once a year.

To help your cat avoid developing oral health issues in the first place, start brushing your cat's teeth and gums while they are still a kitten. They will quickly adjust to the process. If your cat refuses to have its teeth cleaned, dental treats and foods are available to assist you in keeping your cat's teeth healthy.

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 Springfield vets today to book an examination for your feline friend.

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