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Does My Cat Feel Dental Pain or Infection?
  • The pain nerves of the teeth and gums of cats and people are the same.
  • Anything that would make your teeth or gums hurt will make your cat’s teeth or gums hurt.
The Link Between Dental Pain and Infection

With time and inflammation, painful dental problems become infected and dental infections become painful.

Bacteria from dental infections move into the bloodstream and can infect other parts of the body.

Professional dental care that includes dental x-rays is needed to treat the pain and infection.

Do Cats Show Dental Pain?

People complain to their dentist about dental pain.

Yet these same people are walking around, going to work … no one would know they have dental pain unless they said so.

Cats can’t talk, they don’t know that the painful problem can be fixed, and they are much more stoic than people.

Cats almost always hide dental pain.

If your cat shows any signs of dental pain, it’s time for a visit to your veterinarian ASAP!

12 Signs of Dental Pain and Infection in Cats

1. Persistent bad breath is often a sign of dental infection. Bad breath in dogs is easy to notice because they pant. Cats don’t pant, so bad breath often goes unnoticed.

2. Tartar covers most of this upper big back tooth and extends up onto gum (arrow). Receding gums and bone loss may be hidden by the tartar.

3. Broken tooth. Compare the broken upper fang tooth (arrow) to the fang tooth on other side. The broken tooth must be extracted or have a root canal to avoid lifelong pain.

4. Gum disease signs include red gums, gums that bleed easily, receding gums, and overgrown gums. Red swollen gums in a cat. There is mild tartar build up, too. Daily dental care will help the gingivitis. The tartar will continue to build up, so a professional dental cleaning will be needed soon.

5. Resorbing teeth are teeth that slowly and painfully dissolve. The arrow shows a hole in the upper tooth. The dotted outline shows the missing part of the lower tooth that was weakened by resorption and broke off.

6. MORE TARTAR ON ONE SIDE OF THE MOUTH
The side with the heavier tartar isn’t being used because it hurts.

7. DROPPING FOOD / RELUCTANT TO EAT, ESPECIALLY DRY FOOD / EATING SLOWLY
Cats are normally tidy eaters. To check for bits of dropped food put paper towels under and around the
food bowl.

8. WEIGHT LOSS
This can be caused by dental disease, as well as other health problems. A healthy cat’s adult body weight should stay about the same. Weighing your cat at home every month can help catch health problems early. A baby scale works well to find the small weight changes that can be important.

9. FREQUENT SNEEZING / FREQUENTLY LICKS NOSE

10. PAWING AT MOUTH

11. DROOLING

12. BEHAVIOR CHANGES: GROUCHY / HIDING / DECREASED GROOMING

  • Cats mostly show NO SIGNS of their dental pain and infection.
  • That’s why your cat needs to visit your veterinarian every year for a complete dental examination.
  • A complete dental examination includes dental probing and dental x-rays so must be done under anesthesia.
  • Dental x-rays are the only way to find causes of dental pain and infection that are hidden under the gums.
  • WHAT ARE COMMON CAUSES OF DENTAL PAIN AND INFECTION IN CATS?

Three Common Causes of Dental Pain and Infection in Cats

RESORBING (DISSOLVING) TOOTH
  • Cells from the cat’s own body dissolve the tooth, often starting from the outside.
  • The tooth develops holes, similar to cavities, and the roots dissolve into the jaw bone.
  • The gum may grow up the side of the tooth to try to cover the holes.
  • Once the nerve (pulp) is exposed, the tooth is extremely painful.
BROKEN TOOTH
  • If the nerve (pulp) is exposed, the cat will be in constant pain until the tooth is treated by extraction or root canal.
  • Broken back teeth are almost always caused by hard chew toys and treats.
  • Broken front teeth are usually caused by fighting, biting at hard things, or being hit by a car (the cat turns to bite at the tire and breaks a fang tooth).
GUM DISEASES
  • Cats get gingivitis (infected gums) and periodontitis (bone loss) like people do.
  • Gingivitis can cause receding gums, which in people can cause sensitive teeth.
  • Periodontitis (bone loss) is when infection destroys the supporting bone around the teeth.
  • Stomatitis (infected mouth) is when the gums and other tissue way in the back of the mouth are infected. This is a very painful disease.
RESORBING (DISSOLVING) TEETH
  • Tooth resorption is often a very painful problem. 

  • Tooth develops holes, gum may grow up the side of the tooth, and the roots dissolve into the jaw bone.

  • Dental x-rays are needed to see if the roots are dissolving so the doctor can decide how to treat the tooth.

To see how treating resorbing teeth helps catsplease see the True Stories page.

BROKEN TOOTH
  • If the tooth nerve (pulp) is exposed, the cat will be in pain every day until the tooth is treated by extraction or root canal.

  • The exposed nerve gets infected and the infection spreads to the root, causing a root abscess.

  • Other causes of root abscess include discolored teeth, chipped teeth, dissolving teeth, and severe bone loss.

  • Broken fang teeth are often caused by fighting, biting at hard things, or being hit by a car.

To see how treating broken teeth helps cats, please see the True Stories page.

GUM DISEASES
  • Gingivitis (gum infection): can cause receding gums, sensitive teeth.

  • Periodontitis (bone loss): infection destroys the supporting bone around the teeth, can cause tooth loss.

  • Stomatitis (infected mouth): gums and other tissue way in the back of the mouth are deeply infected.

To see how treating gum diseases helps cats, please see the True Stories page.

Brushing your cat’s teeth takes less than a minute per day and is just as important for your cat as it is for you. If treats and dry food worked as well as a toothbrush, wouldn’t people be using them, too? Visit ToothBrush Training℠  and Dental Care Products for more info!

But My Cat Doesn’t Act Like It Hurts!

CATS ARE STOIC

Stoic (stow´ik): Enduring pain or hardship without showing feelings or complaining.

4 QUESTIONS TO ASK YOUR VET
  • Does my cat have any broken or chipped teeth?
  • Does my cat have any resorbing teeth?
  • Does my cat have infected gums or bone loss?
  • Will my cat have a complete dental treatment including dental x-rays?

What Cat Owners Notice
is
How Much Better Their Cat Feels After the Dental Pain is Gone

After their cat has a complete dental treatment including dental
x-rays, cat owners say:


“I can see the difference!”

“My cat acts younger!”

“I can see how much happier my cat is!”

“My cat wants to play with the other cats now.”

“My cat is eating much better!”

“My cat stopped smacking the other cats.”

“My cat wants to play with toys again.”

“My cat is livelier!”


ASK YOUR VETERINARIAN ABOUT COMPLETE DENTAL CARE FOR YOUR CAT!