Cats can develop a variety of dental diseases and oral health issues, just like humans. Some of the common dental diseases and problems that affect cats include:
- Gingivitis: Gingivitis is the inflammation of the gums (gingiva) and is often one of the earliest signs of dental disease in cats. It can result from the accumulation of plaque and tartar on the teeth, leading to red, swollen, and painful gums.
- Periodontal Disease: If gingivitis is left untreated, it can progress to periodontal disease, which affects the supporting structures of the teeth, including the periodontal ligament and the jawbone. This can lead to tooth mobility, pain, and even tooth loss.
- Dental Calculus (Tartar): Accumulation of dental calculus (hardened plaque) on the teeth is a common issue. Tartar buildup can contribute to gum disease and make it difficult to clean the teeth properly.
- Tooth Resorption: Tooth resorption, also known as feline odontoclastic resorptive lesions (FORLs), is a painful condition where the tooth's structure breaks down and is absorbed by the body. These lesions often occur below the gumline, making them difficult to detect without a dental examination.
- Stomatitis: Feline stomatitis is a severe and painful inflammation of the oral tissues, including the gums, tongue, and throat. The exact cause is not always clear, but it is thought to have immune-related components. Stomatitis can be debilitating and may require aggressive dental care, including tooth extraction.
- Oral Tumors: Cats can develop tumors in the mouth, which can be benign or malignant. These tumors may require surgical removal, and early detection is crucial for a better prognosis.
- Bad Breath (Halitosis): Bad breath in cats can be a sign of underlying dental issues. It is often caused by the presence of bacteria in the mouth due to plaque and tartar buildup.
- Broken or Fractured Teeth: Cats may break or fracture their teeth due to trauma or chewing on hard objects. Broken teeth can be painful and may require dental treatment or extraction.
- Malocclusion: Some cats may have misaligned teeth or a bite that doesn't align correctly. This can lead to dental problems and may require intervention to prevent further issues.
Regular dental care, including brushing your cat's teeth, providing dental treats or toys, and scheduling regular dental check-ups with your veterinarian, can help prevent or manage these dental diseases. If you notice any signs of oral discomfort or changes in your cat's eating habits, it's essential to consult your veterinarian promptly to address potential dental issues and maintain your cat's overall health.