Feline dental problems may not seem like a big deal at first, but they can quickly progress to a serious medical condition if left untreated. There is a wide variety of both feline dental problems and causes of these problems, with treatments that are equally varied. Some of these illnesses can be successfully cured with proper treatment. Others may never be cured, but maintained, with the assistance of a veterinarian.
Feline dental disease can be the result of anything from a poor diet to a viral infection. Periodontal disease is the most common feline dental disease. Resulting from plaque build-up, it eats away at the teeth, gums and bones of the mouth. Gingivitis-stomatitus can be the result of a virus, periodontal disease or injury, and it is a painful inflammation of the mouth lining. Other causes of dental disease are chemical irritation of the mouth, traumatic injury, over-crowding of teeth, retained milk teeth (baby teeth), diabetes and genetics.
Symptoms of dental disease can vary according to the disease itself. There are, however, some generalized symptoms that can be present with many feline dental problems, including bad breath, red or inflamed gums, drool, loss of appetite, pawing of the gums and difficulty chewing food. Careful examination of your cat's teeth may show signs of yellow or brown spots on the teeth or along the gum line, or receding gums exposing roots of teeth.
Examine your cat's mouth to look for any of the symptoms listed above. If you suspect there is a problem, see your veterinarian. The veterinarian will examine the mouth for specific symptoms, checking the gums for inflammation and using a special solution to reveal signs of plaque build-up. Depending on the severity of the dental problem, the vet may want to do X-rays of the teeth and gums to look for internal damage.
Successful treatment of any feline dental problem removes plaque, tartar and diseased gum tissue to create a healthier mouth environment. A veterinarian may manually clean the cat's teeth and prescribe antibiotics to treat any infection in the mouth. In severe cases, the vet may want to perform dental surgery to correct any disease-related problems. Tooth extraction is a possibility in severe cases. Yearly dental exams and daily tooth brushing will aid in prevention of further problems. Your vet may also recommend a specialized diet for dental maintenance.
If left untreated, feline dental disease can lead to further dental problems as well as other medical complications. Possible problems resulting from disease include tooth loss, loss of periodontal tissue (bones, gum tissue and periodontal ligaments) and possible dental surgeries. Infections of the mouth can lead to infection of the blood, which can eventually result in death.