How to Help a Cat with Dental Health Problems?
We understand that the oral health of cats is very important. Pet owners should learn how to help a cat with dental health problems of different kinds. Here is a detailed guide.
Pet owners don’t realize how common dental diseases are for cats, especially as cats get older. The diseases are usually associated with the buildup of dental plaque as well as tartar formation. We will be talking about the different diseases and how to help a cat with dental health problems.
How Frequently Should You Get Your Cat Examined?
Cats need to have a tooth examination by a seminarian once a year. If your cat has a dental issue, you should note that they need to visit the vet once in 3-6 months according to their needs. The sooner you get diagnosed, the better it is for the cat. The problem with cats is that they don’t show any clinical signs until the dental disease has advanced to a point where the teeth may need to be removed. This is why you need to make sure to get them properly checked routinely.
Plaque forms when bacteria coat the teeth’s surface that may not be visible at first, but it does become thicker over time. It looks like a white, grey, and soft film that can get thicker. Plaque is usually the underlying root cause of dental diseases. There are some measures that cat owners can take to reduce the development of dental plaque. You can brush their teeth daily to keep the gums healthier or use dental chews and treats to get rid of this plaque.
If you don’t do anything about plaque, it can harden as more and more bacteria accumulate on the teeth. Calcium also gathers on the teeth, and this calcified, hard plaque turns into tartar. Tartar looks brown or yellow/cream as a hard deposit on the surface of the tooth. It can be visible from afar. Since it becomes so hard, you can’t remove it just by brushing the cat’s teeth. You will have to take the cat to the vet to have it professionally cleaned or get some dedicated dental treats for tartar.
Periodontal diseases refer to any illness that persists on the outside of teeth. There are some common diseases that you need to watch out for:
Gingivitis is the inflammation of the gums around the tooth. It is really common among cats of all ages and comes in different severities:
- Mild Gingivitis: It can occur in just 48 hours if the plaque isn’t cleaned. It doesn’t impact the root of the tooth and can be reversed with proper care at home.
- Moderate Gingivitis: Plaque can collect on the teeth as the gums become even more inflamed as the tartar continues to build. You may even start to notice gum recession with pockets of gingival, which refers to the gum that separates away from the tooth. This can create a pocket for plaque, tartar, bacteria, and food to collect in the space. In some cases, it can be reversed with persistent home dental care.
- Severe Gingivitis: A severe case of gingivitis can be really painful for cats. There are many signs that can point to it, including halitosis, hypersalivation, difficulty in eating, bleeding from the gums, and the cat pawing at its mouth. You will also spot some gum recession that’s quite common, but you may not notice it that quickly since the gums can become inflamed as well. You won’t be able to reverse it with brushing since the mouth can also be too sore for brushing. You will have to take it to the vet for professional polish and scale. If it is too severe with the gum receding enough to expose the root, the tooth may need to be removed. After the procedure, you need to regularly brush your cat’s teeth to prevent them from coming back.
It is very common for cats of five months can develop gingivitis that can make their breath smell bad. This is quite normal since the permanent teeth are coming through the gums. It causes loss of teeth due to gum inflammation and disturbance. Some pet owners have been known to find a loose tooth lying around in the home. You should wait for 4 to 6 weeks for it to settle down. If the cat shows any bad symptoms or is visibly discomfort, you should go to the vet at once.
Periodontitis is an advanced gum disease that older cats are more prone to getting. The gums can become recessed and inflamed. A lot of calculus can be seen on the teeth too. The ligaments that are designed for teeth can become infected and break down. This can expose the root of the tooth, which makes the tooth quite unstable. Periodontitis can result in bacterial infection, and sometimes, you can see pus surrounding the teeth. The tooth can become so infected that the only way to help the cat would be to remove the tooth.
Stomatitis is when the oral cavity becomes inflamed. Cats are known to get chronic gingivostomatitis, which also goes by the name Lymphocytic Plasmacytic Gingivostomatitis Complex (LPGC). This inflammation can spread to the gums and other mouth areas. The back of the mouth is often commonly affected, but the inflammation can extend pretty much anywhere across the mouth.
If your cat has an FIV or FCV infection, it can increase the chances of stomatitis. Even if dental plaque is present, you will notice that the inflammation amount can be disproportionate. This can be attributed to immune dysregulation since the immune system of the cat may respond to the infection or bacteria in the mouth too aggressively.
It can cause a lot of pain for cats and can even make it quite difficult for the cat when it comes to eating. It can cause hyper-salivation, too, with mouth pain. You may even notice the cat pawing at the mouth to manage the pain. The reduced appetite can also cause the cat to lose weight as well.
There are different treatments that you can go for, like cleaning or scaling of the teeth, antibiotics, home care, and anti-inflammatories. A lot of cats may need corticosteroids that can help with the inflammation, while others may benefit from immunosuppressive or anti-inflammatory drugs. For severe cases, extraction of the teeth in the cheek can help since it removes the bacteria from the mouth.
Feline Resorptive Lesions (FRLs)
The FRLs are commonly found in both old and young cats. 70% of cats that are over five years old have a type of FRL. The Feline Resorptive Lesion is when the tooth has an erosion that is usually found below and around the gum line. Odontoclast cells that can break down the tooth are often found in these areas.
It can be difficult to identify an FRL in the cat’s mouth, but it often looks like the gum is growing out of the tooth. The gum can become inflamed because a cavity is created, and the body of the cat reacts by filling the hole in with gum tissue.
It can be diagnosed with a dental x-ray or when the vet checks the teeth with the cat under anesthesia. The FRL can be really sensitive, and the cats that have it will be visibly in pain. The disease causes persistent erosion where the crown can fracture off, leaving the entire tooth root exposed. Since the cavity is not the same as one that happens to human teeth, it cannot be filled. The entire tooth will be removed by the vet.
Fractured teeth don’t always need an extraction, but they can be depending on the individual tooth. Generally, teeth that have a pulp cavity or dentine, which affects the blood supply and nerve, will need to be extracted since the tooth can be quite painful, and there is an increased risk of root abscess and infection. In cases where the crown’s tip is the only thing fractured, it won’t be removed.
However, cats’ teeth have a very thin enamel covering, so most fractured teeth will need to be removed. You will notice the cat paw at its mouth, reduced appetite, favoring a side of its mouth, or hypersalivation.
Extracting and Cleaning Teeth
Of course, no cat would sit still while the vet does dental work, so most of these procedures will be performed under general anesthesia. You should make sure to schedule dental appointments with the vet regularly.
We hope you now know how to help a cat with dental health problems of different kinds. You should keep an eye on their dental needs as well as consider incorporating some dental care regularly.
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