Skip to Main Content
Ask About Financing

Common Cat Dental Problems

Cats can suffer from dental problems that can cause significant discomfort and lead to other health issues. Our veterinary team in Madison is here to help you identify the signs of dental problems in your cat, understand the most common dental diseases that affect cats, and learn how to prevent or treat these issues.

Your Cat's Oral Health

It is important to take care of your cat's oral health, as it significantly impacts their overall well-being. Your cat uses its mouth, teeth, and gums for eating and vocalizing. If these structures are damaged or diseased, your cat may experience pain, making it difficult for them to eat and communicate normally.

Moreover, the bacteria and infections that cause oral health problems in cats can spread beyond their mouth if left untreated. This can cause severe damage to vital organs like the liver, kidneys, and heart, negatively affecting your cat's health and lifespan. Therefore, your cat must maintain good oral hygiene to prevent potential health issues.

Cat Dental Disease Symptoms

Specific symptoms will differ between conditions; however, if you notice any of the following behaviors or symptoms, your cat may show signs of tooth problems.

Some of the most common symptoms of cat teeth problems can 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

If you notice any of the above signs of dental disease in your cat, bring it to your Madison veterinarian as soon as possible. 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

While a wide range of health issues can affect your cat's gums, teeth, and other oral structures, there are three particularly common conditions to watch out for. 

Periodontal Disease

Did you know that around 70% of cats develop periodontal disease by the time they turn 3? This disease is caused by bacteria found in plaque, a soft film of bacteria and food particles that accumulate on teeth throughout the day.

If your cat's teeth are not regularly cleaned, the plaque will harden and turn into tartar, which will extend below the gum line. Bacteria can then become trapped under the gum line and around the teeth, causing irritation and erosion of the structures supporting the teeth.

If left untreated, periodontal disease can result in serious gum infections, tooth loss, and organ damage as the bacteria spreads throughout the body.


Feline stomatitis is a painful condition that involves inflammation and ulceration of a cat's gums, cheeks, and tongue. Although Persians and Himalayans are more likely to develop this condition, it can affect any cat.

Cats suffering from stomatitis often experience extreme pain, which can lead to reduced appetite and malnourishment. Mild cases of stomatitis can be treated with at-home care, while severe cases require surgical intervention.

Tooth Resorption

Tooth resorption in cats describes the gradual destruction of a tooth or multiple teeth in your cat's mouth. This is a fairly common condition in cats, potentially affecting up to three-quarters of middle-aged and older cats. 

When a cat experiences tooth resorption, the body starts to break down the hard outer layer of the tooth, which causes pain and ultimately loosens the tooth. Unfortunately, this destruction happens below the cat's gum line, making it difficult to detect without a dental X-ray. You may notice this condition if your cat suddenly prefers soft foods or swallows their food without chewing.

Preventing Dental Issues in Cats

Brushing and cleaning their mouth regularly is best to prevent dental problems with your cat's teeth. This will help remove plaque before it causes damage or infection, keeping your cat's teeth and gums healthy.

Getting your pet a professional dental examination and cleaning once a year is also advisable to maintain their oral health. At Best Friends Animal Hospital, we offer dental appointments that are like taking your cat to the veterinary dentist.

If you have a kitten, it's a good idea to start brushing their teeth and gums early on to avoid dental issues in the future. They will quickly get used to the process.

However, if your cat refuses to have its teeth cleaned, dental treats and foods are available to help you keep your cat's teeth healthy.

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 or dog showing signs of dental health problems? Contact our Madison vets today to book an examination for your feline friend.

New Patients Welcome

Best Friends Animal Hospital is always accepting new patients. Our experienced veterinary team is passionate about the health and comfort of companion animals. Get in touch today to learn about the difference our expertise makes.

Contact Us

(256) 464-5030 Contact