Cat Diseases - Dental Disease

advanced periodontal disease in cat
  • Dental disease is one of the most common medical conditions seen by veterinarians.
  • Approximately two-thirds of cats over three years of age have some degree of dental disease.
  • It is prudent for cat owners to keep a regular check of their cat's mouth and seek veterinary attention if they notice anything amiss.
  • Cavities are extremely rare in companion animals, especially cats.
  • Some common dental problems cats encounter include:
        Endodontic disease
        Oral resorptive lesions(cervical neck lesions)
        Periodontal disease
        Tooth abscess
  • Gingivitis is a general term for inflammation of the gums (gingiva).
  • It may be localised to one tooth, or may be widespread affecting numerous teeth.
  • Gingivitis is the mildest form of periodontal disease.
  • Infection and inflammation spreads from the gums to the ligaments and bone that support the teeth.
  • If left untreated, loss of support causes the teeth to become loose and eventually fall out.
  • Gingivitis is reversible If addressed immediately, if it is left to progress to periodontal disease, damage is irreversible.
    Endodontic disease:
  • Endodontic disease refers to any inflammation of the pulp, known as pulpitis.
  • Pulpitis can be reversible or irreversible.
    Oral resorptive lesions
  • Oral resorptive lesions is also referred to as cervical line lesions, tooth resorption, feline odontoclastic resorptive lesions (FORLs).
  • Tooth resorption is very common in our feline companion.
  • It is the gradual destruction of a tooth or teeth caused by cells called odontoclasts.
  • Odontoclasts are cells who's role is to absorb the bone and roots of deciduous (baby) teeth. In the case of FORL, these cells reabsorb the adult teeth.
  • Tooth resorption usually starts on the outside of a tooth at the gum line.
  • The condition is most common in premolars in the lower jaw, but can occur in any tooth.
  • The cause of FORLs isn't known, therefore there is currently no way to prevent the condition.
    Periodontal disease:
  • Periodontal disease is a disease of the tissues that surround and support the teeth.
  • Periodontal disease (also known as gum disease) is the most common oral disease to affect cats.
  • Plaque is a sticky 'biofilm' composed mostly of bacteria (predominantly streptococcus) which forms on the teeth.
  • If proper dental care isn't followed, over time, plaque, saliva, minerals and food debris mineralise, causing tartar (also known as calculus).
  • This leads to inflammation of the gums. At this stage, proper treatment can reverse the problem.
  • Left untreated the tartar begins to collect under the gum line.
  • Gums separate from the teeth, forming pockets (spaces between the teeth and gums) that become infected.
    Tooth abscess:
  • Tooth abscesses can be caused by advanced dental disease.
  • When bacteria are introduced into the roots of the teeth leads to the formation of an abscess.
  • Stomatitis is a common disease causing chronic inflammation and ulceration of the soft tissues in the mouth.
  • This is an extremely painful disease and cats will often have difficulty eating, hypersalivate (drool), paw at the mouth and show other signs of mouth pain.
  • They may lose weight with the reduced appetite.
Some of the general symptoms of all dental disease include: cat dental disease
  • Bad breath (this is one of the most common symptoms of a dental problem)
  • Drooling
  • Lumps or bumps
  • Red, inflamed or bleeding gums
  • Reluctance to eat, especially hard foods
  • Reluctance to groom
  • Pus around the tooth
  • Sensitivity around the mouth
  • Pawing at the face
  • Loose or missing teeth
  • Loss of appetite
  • Stomach or intestinal upsets
  • Irritability or depression
  • Yellow deposits on the teeth
  • Many of the dental disease are irreversible and therefore prevention is very important.
  • It is important to familiarize your cat from a very young age (kitten age) to having her teeth cleaned and checked on a regular basis.
  • A good dental care program should include:
    • Regular visits to your veterinarian, which include an oral exam
    • Veterinary dental cleaning as advised
    • Daily oral care, brushing of the teeth with cat specific dental kit including cat toothbrush and toothpaste.
    • Specially formulated dental diets (ask your vet for recommendations)
    • Only feed tartar and plaque control treats (do not feed table scraps)
  • Gingivitis
    • Early cases of gingivitis which haven't progressed far may possibly be treated at home with regular dental cleaning. Brush your cat’s teeth at least once a week.
    • Descaling to remove tartar build up will be performed in more advanced cases.
    • Provide special feline chew toys, designed to reduce tartar build up.
    • Feed special dental diets that keep teeth healthy.
  • Endodontic disease:
    • Treatment involves either root canal or extraction.
  • Oral resorptive lesions:
    • Extraction of a tooth undergoing resorption is the only treatment for the condition.
  • Periodontal disease:
    • The specific treatment for periodontal disease depends on how advanced the disease is.
    • In the early stages, treatment is focused on controlling plaque and preventing attachment loss.
    • This is achieved by daily brushing with “animal safe” toothpaste, professional cleansing, polishing, and the prescribed application of fluoride.
  • Tooth abscess:
    • Treatment involves tooth extraction, flushing of the affected area and antibiotics.
  • Stomatitis:
    • Various treatments may be used including initial scaling and cleaning of the teeth, follow-up home care, antibiotics and anti-inflammatories.
    • The response to therapy is variable and many cats need corticosteroids to control the inflammation.
    • In some very severely affected cats, extraction of all of the cheek teeth is helpful - this may be because it removes the site of persistent bacteria in the mouth.