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Common Cat Dental Problems

Dental problems can cause a lot of pain for your cat and lead to other health issues. Our vets in Goleta are here to help you recognize dental health problems in your cat, understand the most common dental diseases in cats, and know how to prevent or treat these issues.

Your Cat's Oral Health

Ensuring your cat has good oral health for their overall well-being is important. Cats use their mouth, teeth, and gums to eat and communicate. If their oral structures are diseased or damaged, they may experience pain and difficulty performing these functions.

Additionally, the bacteria and infections that cause oral health problems in cats can spread throughout their body and damage important organs like the kidneys, liver, and heart.

This can have a serious impact on their overall health and longevity. Therefore, it's essential to maintain good oral hygiene for your cat.

Cat Dental Disease Symptoms

Different conditions may exhibit varying symptoms, but if you observe any of the following signs or behaviors, your cat may display symptoms of a tooth issue.

Some of the most prevalent symptoms of cat dental problems may include:

  • Bad Breath (halitosis)
  • Excessive drooling
  • Weight loss
  • Difficulty with or slow eating
  • Missing or loose teeth
  • Visible tartar
  • Bleeding, swollen, or noticeably red gums
  • Pawing at their teeth or mouth

Bring your cat to your Goleta veterinarian as soon as possible if you notice any of the above signs of dental disease. The sooner your cat's dental disease is identified and treated, the better off they will be in the long run.

Common Cat Dental Diseases

Three common oral health conditions to watch for in cats are gum diseases, tooth decay, and oral cancer.

Periodontal Disease

Did you know that approximately 70% of cats develop some form of periodontal disease by the age of 3? This infection is caused by bacteria that are found in plaque, which is a soft film of bacteria and food debris that accumulates on teeth throughout the day.

If the plaque is not removed through regular brushing or cleaning, it will harden and turn into tartar that extends below the gum line. When bacteria get trapped under the gum line and against the teeth, it can irritate and erode the structures that support the teeth.

If left untreated, periodontal disease can lead to a serious infection of the gums, loose or missing teeth, and even organ damage as the bacteria spreads throughout the body.


Feline stomatitis is a painful condition that causes inflammation and sores on your cat's gums, cheeks, and tongue. Although Persians and Himalayans are more prone to this condition, any cat can develop stomatitis.

Cats with this condition suffer from severe pain and often lose their appetite, leading to malnourishment in some cases. Mild cases can be treated with at-home care, while severe cases require surgical intervention.

Tooth Resorption

Tooth resorption is a condition in cats where one or more teeth gradually get destroyed. This common condition in cats can affect up to three-quarters of middle-aged and older cats. When a cat has tooth resorption, the hard outer layer of the tooth starts to break down, causing it to become loose and painful.

Since this destruction occurs below the cat's gum line, it isn't easy to detect without a dental x-ray. If your cat suddenly starts preferring soft foods or swallows their food without chewing, this condition could be present.

Preventing Dental Issues in Cats

Routine brushing and cleaning of your cat's mouth is the best way to prevent dental problems from developing. Removing plaque before it can cause any damage or infection is highly recommended, thereby ensuring your cat's teeth and gums remain healthy. 

To keep your kitty's teeth in tip-top condition, it is advisable to bring your pet for a professional dental examination and cleaning once a year at Goleta Airport Pet Hospital. These appointments are similar to taking your cat to a veterinary dentist.

To avoid oral health issues in the first place, start brushing your cat's teeth and gums when they are still kittens. This will help them get used to the process. Dental treats and foods are available to help you maintain your cat's oral health if your cat refuses to have its teeth cleaned.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Is your cat showing signs of dental health problems? Contact our Goleta vets today to book an examination for your feline friend.

New Patients Welcome

At Goleta Airport Pet Hospital, we are always accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health and well-being of all Goleta pet companions. Contact us to book your pet's first appointment today!

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(805) 968-4300