Dental problems are very common in cats. However, unfortunately, they can’t communicate or tell their owners about the pain they may be facing, which is why it’s essential that the owners are vigilant of it themselves.
Another factor that makes it harder is the fact that cats are brilliant at hiding pain. By the time your cat starts to make the signs evident, it may be too late and the problems/disease could have advanced. This is why you need to know the signs so that you can help prevent dental problems in cats.
From teeth chattering to a change in behavior, there are all kinds of signs that are indicators for this purpose. To make it easy for you, we have made a list of 17 signs your cat may have dental problems.
1. Bad Breath
Bad breath is the first indicator that your cat may have dental problems so doesn’t ignore it. We aren’t talking about the usual odor but a stronger, more offensive one. It’s an indication that something is not right in your cat’s mouth. Bad breath can be caused by a variety of factors, such as infection, tooth or gum disorders, periodontal disease, tooth resorption, etc.
2. Shaking or tilting their head
If you find your cat shaking or tilting its head more than usual, then don’t assume it’s an ear problem. Especially if this is paired with drooling or other signs, then it’s a major indication that it’s a dental problem. The reason behind the shaking and tilting may be the pain that your cat is in due to dental problems.
3. Redness of gums
Another sign that could indicate that your cat may be having dental problems is that its gums are red. Cats are prone to a disease called gingivitis, which is basically inflammation of the gums. The primary sign of this disease is the redness of the gums and, therefore, it’s easy to detect. It’s mostly along the rim of the gum, the part where it connects to the teeth. Even though the disease itself isn’t serious, it can lead to more serious ones if left on its own.
It’s not normal for your cat to drool while eating. If you find them doing that, then it’s a sign that something is wrong. Drooling can be caused by dental pain, gingivitis as cervical line lesions. Keep a special lookout for blood in your cats drool or water dish as that is also a major sign.
5. Plaque and Tartar
Plaque and rartar can be a cover-up for many dental problems that your cat may be suffering from. Plaque is a soft film of bacteria as well as food debris that collects every day and sticks to the surface of a cat’s teeth.
Sometimes, the plaque stays stuck on the surface of the teeth, which causes the minerals found in the cat’s saliva to harden this plaque into dental calculus, which is called tartar; it is firmly attached to the teeth.
If your cat’s teeth is covered in plaque and tartar, then it could be a sign that there is tooth decay happening underneath.
Chattering teeth is also an indication that your cat may be having dental problems. Chatting is when your cat’s jaw shakes or quivers. Usually, it’s a sign noticed in cats who have resorptive lesions on their teeth. Due to this painful condition, cavity-like holes in the teeth are created, which eat away at the teeth or turn tooth roots into bone.
Chattering generally occurs when a cat eats, washes its face or grooms, so make sure to keep a special lookout during those times. It happens because of excruciating pain from the tooth root and can be loud enough to hear. Your cat chattering is not a normal occurrence and is a strong indication that something in your cat’s mouth is bothering them.
7. Wobbly or broken teeth
If your cat’s teeth are wobbling or breaking, then pay attention and know that this isn’t normal. Even though cats are resilient and can tolerate this for a long time while continuing to eat, don’t be fooled. Take them to the vet if this happens to prevent other dental problems from taking place.
8. Bleeding Gums
Bleeding gums is a part of gum disease. It is generally followed by gingivitis and/or gum recession and is a sign that something is off. Make sure not to ignore this because doing so can lead to severe dental diseases that will be extremely painful for your cat.
9. Decrease in self-grooming
If your cat stops grooming, then it’s because they’re not feeling well. When cats don’t feel well, they automatically stop grooming. Oral problems make grooming painful for cats so if you notice that their coat looks greasy or not like it usually does then it may be time to take them to the vet.
10. Swelling of the gums
Swelling is usually always considered to be a sign that something’s wrong so this applies to the gums as well. Swelling of the gums can be an indicator that there’s an underlying problem. It can be extremely painful and not only could it cause a loss of teeth but could also make its way to other parts of the body.
11. Excessive yawning
Even though yawning is normal for cats, excessive yawning could be an indicator that there’s something majorly wrong. The reason behind this is that the oral pain might be too much to handle, which is why your cat could be finding it difficult to close its mouth.
12. Loss of Appetite
A loss of appetite is a warning sign for something being wrong. If you notice that your cat is suddenly not eating the way that it used to before, then pay attention to it instead of ignoring it. Other signs include vomiting unchewed food, chewing on only one side of the mouth, dropping food from the mouth during eating. These are all signs that your cat is in pain and could be experiencing major dental problems.
13. Pulling away when touched on the face
You will start to notice that your cat isn’t reacting the way that it normally would if it’s going through dental problems. This includes them pulling away when touched near the mouth instead of enjoying being touched or scratched by you. It is an instinctive reaction due to the fact that they are in a lot of pain. Dental diseases such as Resorptive lesions and gingivitis can be extremely painful, which is why they react that way. Another indication could be that they meow when you touch them on the face.
14. Lumps on the gums
Many soft-tissue lumps grow around the mouth. Keep a lookout for them and take your cat to the vet if you do find them. Even though not all of them may be harmful some could be, so it’s best to get them checked.
15. Behaving Differently
One of the easiest identifiers that your cat may be dealing with dental problems is if it is not behaving the way that it used to. Pick up on changes in their daily behavior. It could be anything from avoiding you and other people to growling and being more aggressive than they normally would be. An example could be them reaching out to bite you when you go near them. Your sweet cat would normally never behave this way so the fact that they are now just shows how much pain they’re probably in. Don’t be alarmed by this abnormal behavior as it’s probably a result of the excruciating pain, instead get it investigated.
16. Pawing at the mouth
Another major indicator that your cat is suffering from dental problems may be that it is pawing at the mouth. This could be a result of it facing acute pain in the mouth so this is a way for them to get that pain out. They may also be rubbing their mouth in addition or instead of pawing at it.
17. Gum Recession
This is when the gum shifts down away from the crown of the teeth. It’s not an uncommon occurrence and often happens after gingivitis or on its own. What this does is that it leaves the roots of the teeth vulnerable and causes many problems from increasing the risk of fracture to loose teeth and neck lesions. The earlier on you catch it, the more successful you’ll be at managing it.
Each of these signs is a major indicator that your cat may be having dental problems. Keep a lookout for them so that you can deal with the problem early on and save your cat from major diseases and excruciating pain. It’ll also save you a lot of money and time and you’ll thank yourself later on!
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