Unfortunately, most cats do not show signs when suffering from dental disease. Wild felines are programmed to not show signs of weakness, as this will result in either a loss of hierarchy within their colony or being singled out and targeted by a predator. Therefore, cats are conditioned to simply live with their dental problems and will even eat despite the presence of dental disease, in many cases swallowing the food whole. Because the signs of pain are often very gradual, owners frequently attribute the changed behavior to “just getting old.”
However, the reality is that cat dental disease is very common in the Naples/ Bonita Springs/ Marco Island areas, and the rest of the country for that matter, and poses a serious risk to our feline companions. It is estimated that 50% of cats over five years of age have at least one painful dental problem. Periodontal disease, along with stomatitis and tooth resorption, are the most common dental issues requiring treatment in cats.
Periodontal disease begins when bacteria in the mouth form plaque, which sticks to the surface of the teeth. Minerals in the saliva harden the plaque into calculus (tartar), which adheres to the tooth. Calculus above the gum line is visible but the real problem occurs as plaque and calculus spread under the gum line. Periodontal disease can be prevented with routine dental cleanings under general anesthesia at Town and Country Animal Hospital, located in the Golden Gate area of Naples.
Stomatitis is severe inflammation or ulceration of the gums. This is a debilitating disease for affected cats and is most often association with foul breath, difficulty eating, and drooling. The lesions usually involve both sides of the mouth and some cats can have large areas of their mouth that are covered with inflamed and raw gums. This condition requires aggressive treatment. Some cats may respond to medical treatment and oral hygiene,but for many cats, extraction of most or all of the teeth is likely to provide the best likelihood of relief.
Another common dental issue seen in cats is tooth resorption. This condition is very painful and treatment most often involves removal of the compromised tooth. Tooth resorption is identified through oral x-rays that must be performed under general anesthesia.
At Town & Country Animal Hospital, we offer a variety of options to prevent and treat cat dental disease, as well as carefor and management of many other diseases and issues, including dog dental disease and cat kidney disease.