Skip to Main Content
Ask About Financing

Common Dental Problems in Cats

Dental problems can cause your cat significant pain, and lead to other health issues. Today, our Harrisburg veterinary team explains how to spot dental health problems in your cat, what the most common dental diseases are in cats, and how these issues can be prevented or treated.

Your Cat's Oral Health

Your cat's oral health is important to their overall health and well-being. Your cat uses their mouth, teeth, and gums to eat and vocalize, so when its oral structures are diseased or damaged, and stop functioning properly, your cat experiences pain, which will interfere with its ability to eat and communicate normally. 

Additionally, the bacteria and infections that many cats experience oral health problems from won't just stay in your cat's mouth. If left untreated, the infection and bacteria from your cat's mouth could spread throughout the rest of their body, harming vital organs like their kidneys, liver, and heart and having more detrimental effects on their general health and lifespan.

How To Spot Dental Problems in Cats

Specific symptoms of teeth problems in cats will differ between conditions, however, if you notice any of the following behaviors or symptoms, there is a chance that your cat is suffering from dental disease.

Some of the most common symptoms of dental disease in cats 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

Bring your cat as soon as you can to your Harrisburg vet for an examination if you notice any of the aforementioned signs of dental disease in them. The sooner the dental disease in your cat is identified and treated, the better for the long-term health of your cat.

Common Cat Dental Diseases

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

Periodontal Disease

Approximately 70% of all cats will develop some form of periodontal disease by the time they reach the age of 3.

This disease is an infection caused by bacteria found in plaque—the soft film of bacteria and food debris that builds up on teeth over the day. If your cat's plaque isn't regularly brushed away or cleaned, it will harden and form tartar that extends below its gum life.

It starts to irritate and erode the structures supporting your cat's teeth when the bacteria become trapped beneath the gum line and up against the cat's teeth. In the event that periodontal disease is left unattended, the bacteria will spread throughout your cat's body, resulting in a serious infection of the cat's gums, loose and missing teeth, and organ damage.


Feline stomatitis is an incredibly painful inflammation and ulceration—opening of sores—of your cat's gums, cheeks, and tongue.

Persians and Himalayans are predisposed to developing this condition but any cat can develop stomatitis.

Cats with this condition are frequently in excruciating pain and have decreased appetites as a result. Cats may become malnourished in some cases because eating is so painful for them. If your cat has a mild case, at-home care may be sufficient to treat its stomatitis. However, severe cases necessitate surgical intervention.

Tooth Resorption

Tooth resorption in cats is a problem concerning 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 suffers from tooth resorption, the body begins to break down the hard outer layer of the tooth, causing it to loosen and cause pain. This destruction takes place beneath your cat's gum line, making it difficult to detect without a dental X-ray. However, if your cat suddenly develops a preference for soft foods or swallows their food without chewing, it may have this condition.

Preventing Dental Issues in Cats

The absolute best way to help prevent the development of dental problems with your cat's teeth is routine brushing and cleaning your cat's mouth. Your cat's teeth and gums will have a much better chance of remaining healthy if plaque is brushed or wiped away before it can cause damage or infection.

To help keep your kitty's teeth in tip-top condition bring your pet in for a professional dental examination and cleaning once a year. Dental appointments at Colonial Park Animal Clinic are like taking your kitty for an appointment at the veterinary cat dentist.

You should start brushing your cat's teeth and gums when they are still kittens so that they can get used to the process and avoid oral health problems from arising in the first place. Dental treats and foods are also available to help you maintain your cat's dental health if they won't let you brush their teeth.

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 Harrisburg vets at Colonial Park Animal Clinic today to book an examination for your feline friend.

New Patients Welcome

Colonial Park Animal Clinic is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

Contact Us

(717) 540-7140