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Thomas Gil Hodges, DVM
Cat Care Clinic

Feline DentistryOne of the most commonly overlooked health concerns in the cat is the status of their oral health. It is not surprising to learn that 85% of adult Felines have Periodontal Disease. Dental disease is the single largest cause of health problems in cats.

For most owners, opening their cat's mouth is usually difficult and unwanted. However, we can show you the best method to easily open the mouth and check for the common signs of Gingivitis, Periodontal Disease as well as other conditions that can affect the health of your family member.

The normal bacterial population found in a cat's mouth is very high when compared to other species. For example, if a dog bites another dog, they usually cause a contusion or laceration. But, if a cat bites another cat, they will generate an infection that usually develops into an abscess. With this in mind, when cats develop Dental Tartar, Gingivitis or Food Allergies; the resulting inflammation allows these same bacteria to cause infections in that cat's own mouth. Further, the bacteria seep into the bloodstream and cause damage to the Kidneys, Liver and Heart.

Cats also demonstrate a condition known as Tooth Resorption (TR) also called Odontoclastic Resorptive Lesions (ORL's). This disease can actually cause the tooth to dissolve and, as you can imagine, it is painful to the cat. The exact trigger of this disease is still under investigation.

Food Allergies, Tooth Fractures and Neoplasia are also common problems in the feline mouth.

We have included some images to illustrate some of the more common pathologies.

Cat Periondontal Disease

Feline Dental Disease will present with one or more of the symptoms or findings listed below.

  • Excessive salivation
  • Halitosis (Bad Breath)
  • Inflamed Gums (Redness along the gum line)
  • Dental Tartar (Presents as a brown, mineral deposit most commonly seen on the larger teeth such as Pre-Molars and Molars. They are located on the sides of the mouth)
  • Tooth Resorption or Fracture
  • Missing teeth
  • Pain Response when gently pressing on the gums
  • Dropping Food from mouth
  • Reduction or Cessation of Eating
  • Tissue Proliferation caused by inflammation or Neoplasia
  • Loss of Bone Density
  • Lethargy and Dehydration

Many other symptoms may be present should other organs be involved.

Cat DentistryOne of the purposes of providing this information is to emphasize that having Cat Care Clinic Veterinarians conduct an annual Examination of your family feline can keep you out of the dog house.

The vast majority of the conditions previously listed can be avoided. Our Staff can also inform you of what not to do, which is equally important. For example, be very careful if you decide to try brushing your cat's teeth. Pet owners may be well meaning, but cat's teeth are not the same shape as that of people. Improper use of toothbrushes can excoriate the gums and allow bacteria to invade the blood stream! Yuk! Finger Cots and Digital Brushes can also present a problem. Generally, cats do not like to have fingers in their mouths. Dental Rinses may be useful. But, your family member may not cooperate with the "rinse and spit" command.

The type and texture of cat food does play a useful role in dental health. There are select diets, such as Hill's Prescription T/D that will help to a certain degree. However, this must be weighed against the need to eat canned foods. Canned foods contain larger amounts of water (70%) than does kibble (10%). Hydration status and chewing ability will always overrule food texture.

Remember, Cat Care Clinic is here to help. Our staff will show you how to check for Feline Dental Disease in between visits and also advise you on the best time for scheduling your cat's dental cleaning. We will tell you what is involved and what you will need to do to help with your cat's oral health.

Please contact us should you need further information.