Your Questions About Your Cat’s Dental Care, Answered

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We often hear that one of the best things a pet owner can do to ensure the overall health of their pet is to do routine checking of the teeth, gums and oral cavity and to schedule their pets for routine dental cleanings with their trusted veterinarian.

Oftentimes, we’re asked if that includes our pet cats, too.

And the resounding answer is yes!

Cats use their mouths for all sorts of activities: eating, hunting, play, defence, and grooming. Subsequently, their teeth are exposed to many different materials and can develop various forms of dental disease over time.

Some of the most common dental problems in cats include:

Periodontal disease

Periodontal disease is the number one medical condition diagnosed in cats — more than weight problems, or even kidney disease!

By the age of 3, many cats will have some degree of periodontal disease.

What begins as a buildup of plaque and tartar on the tooth, can turn into a spread of plaque below the gum line, which leads to inflammation, infection, and tooth loss.


Cancer of the oral cavity is a commonly diagnosed cancer in cats. Early diagnosis is imperative to the successful treatment of this kind of cancer; making routine cleanings and oral examinations extremely important.

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!

Bad Breath

Yuck, yuck, yuck! Dragon breath is a very common complaint in veterinary medicine.

Bad breath occurs as the result of multiple different problems in the oral cavity, from simple periodontal disease to an infected mass, or it can be the result of a systemic illness such as diabetes or kidney disease.

Bad breath (halitosis) may be the only sign of a more serious underlying problem, so it’s important to check out a stinky mouth!


This is an extremely painful condition caused by severe inflammation or ulceration of the tissues lining the oral cavity. Cats with feline stomatitus have extremely reddened, inflamed mouths and may often resist having their teeth examined. We often see a reduction in appetite, and even malnourishment in more severe cases.

While mild cases may respond to medical care and home care, often surgical removal of the affected tissues will be necessary.

Following the complete removal of the roots, many cats will show great progress and will resume their normal eating habits soon post-surgery.

Tooth Resorption

Did you know that tooth resorption affects up to three-quarters of cats over the age of 5? This is when the body starts to resorb the dentin, loosening the tooth and causing painful exposure of the root.

The erosion begins below the gum line, making it impossible to determine which teeth are affected without dental X-rays.

This is commonly under diagnosed, because the symptoms can be very subtle; think of the cat who begins showing a preference for soft food, or who swallows his food without chewing.

Once the affected teeth (or tooth) is pinpointed, the affected tooth needs to be extracted.


We’re all likely familiar with the signs of an infection - swelling, redness, pus, abscesses, and discomfort. You may notice your cat pawing at their face. Infections in the oral cavity can result in pain and swelling in the jaw, quickly spreading to surrounding tissues. Owners may notice facial swelling or even a protruding eye if the infection spreads! Treatment involves extracting the infected tooth or performing a root canal, and treating the infection with antibiotics and pain control.


When feline teeth are in abnormal positions, this presents the mouth from closing comfortably, which can lead to pain and trauma to the gingival tissues as the teeth bite into the sensitive gums. This can predispose a cat to periodontal disease.

A veterinarian can ensure the teeth are properly aligned by evaluating the bite in a thorough oral exams.

Treatments such as extractions (and even orthodontics!) can be suggested to improve the placement of the teeth.

Keeping your cat’s mouth clean and healthy

There are two things cat owners can do to ensure their cat’s mouths are healthy and clean - that is home care and regular veterinarian exams.

This isn’t a “one or the other” kind of thing either; you’ll want to do both for the best health of your feline friend!

We’re offering FREE PET DENTAL EXAMS + 20% off Sedative-Only Pet Teeth Cleaning for the month of October.


(250) 339-6555

Thanks for reading!

From the desk of Dr. Stacey Gastis