cat brushing teeth

4 Most Common Cat Dental Diseases – And What You Can Do About Them

Dental disease & cat tooth pain are among the most common health issues that occur in cats. In this article we will go through the 4 most common dental diseases in cats and what you can do about them.

  1. Tooth Resorption
  2. Feline Stomatitis
  3. Periodontitis
  4. Gingivitis

Common Cat Dental Diseases

All of these diseases form in the following way:

Pieces of leftover food, bacteria and saliva form plaque on the teeth. Over time, this plaque calcifies and dental tartar forms, which is the basis for the formation of new plaque.

Both plaque and tartar favor the multiplication of harmful bacteria in the mouth, which in turn leads to infections, bad breath and the development of dental disease. Dental tartar leads to gingivitis (gums bleed to the touch, it is painful), and eventually periodontitis develops which leads to tooth loss.

Various inflammatory processes on the gums are most often treated with antibiotics and antiseptic gels.

The changes can initially manifest as a:

  • Swelling
  • Redness
  • Inflammation
  • Thin red line above the teeth

Sometimes inflammatory processes cannot be cured with antibiotics, and this is most often in those stages when deeper structures are affected, which then need to be cleaned and treated.

Inflammatory processes hidden in deeper structures are a potential source of bacteria that can be blown into the body through the bloodstream, which is a serious problem.

Tooth Resorption

Tooth resorption, formerly known as the resorptive tooth lesion is a common disease in adult cats.

The process occurs at the junction of teeth and gums. It is characterized by the gradual disappearance of solid tooth structures and tooth loss.

The cause of this disease is not yet known, and purebred cats and those aged 4 to 6 are most often affected. It occurs in purebred cats such as the Siamese, Persian, Russian blue, and the Abyssinian.

Resorption occurs as a result of the action of odontoclasts, which resorb the hard tissue of the tooth. The process of resorption begins on the root surface and spreads to the deeper layers of the root part of the tooth (dentin layer).

This condition can be such that the cat does not show signs of pain during feeding, so the owner notices the disease only when the teeth begin to fall out. Premolars and molars are affected, felines are rarely involved.


Rehabilitation of this process is done by restoring the teeth, brushing or extracting the teeth, depending on the condition.

In fact, it is not so dangerous that a cat has lost a tooth as the fact that it will not eat.

I definitely advise you to take your cat to a veterinarian, preferably one who has a dental x-ray so that the cause that led to the tooth loss can be determined. It is also possible that the tooth cracked, so the root remained inside.

Such a condition should definitely be resolved as soon as possible, as the gums will heal, but the remaining root will start to bother after a while. The cat definitely does not eat because of the pain, and inflammation is certainly possible here.

cat teeth 1

Feline Stomatitis

Feline chronic gingivostomatitis affects 0.7 – 4% of cats and is an extremely painful, uncomfortable condition that occurs repeatedly resulting in severe inflammation of the oral tissue.

There are two forms depending on the localization of the inflammatory process in the oral cavity:

  1. The first form is characterized by inflammation that begins in the gums and the tissue surrounding the tooth.
  2. Another form, caudal stomatitis, involves inflammation in the back of the oral cavity, at the junction of the upper and lower jaws. Caudal stomatitis is more challenging to treat. There is no breed and age predisposition.

In feline stomatitis, the affected areas in the mouth are usually hot, more pronounced red, bleed easily and have a grainy structure in appearance.

Sick cats have a problem with eating and chewing.

The disease can contribute to weight loss, severe bad breath, sick cats can salivate or bleed from the mouth, and often scratch their paws around their mouths.

Also, coarse, sticky hair appears all over the body very quickly as a direct result of reduced cleansing and poorer absorption and reduced food intake.

It is generally believed that cats with gingivostomatitis have altered immunity that allows the disease to progress.

Both reduced and overactive immunity lead to disease. Inadequate immune response of the animal to bacterial dental plaque, however, plays the largest role in the development of the process.

An excessive reaction to bacterial plaque leads to an excessive inflammatory reaction which, if not treated properly, can progress to a more serious autoimmune condition in which the body “attacks” its dental tissue.

The role of feline calicivirus and later gingivostomatitis, as well as the virus of infectious feline leukemia and AIDS, Bartonella henselae infection, which do not directly cause gingivostomatitis, but have an important role in its development, has been proven.


The treatment plan for feline stomatitis depends on the degree and severity of the condition and the individual approach of the patients with respect to the immune response of each animal.

As there is no specific cause of gingivostomatitis, there is no specific therapy. The first line of defense is regular dental hygiene and maintaining good immunity.

Medical treatment includes control of dental plaque and tartar and maintenance of the inflammatory-immune response. To prevent the bacterial component of the disease, antibiotics are commonly used, but most often the inflammation returns as soon as they stop being used.

The use of corticosteroids reduces inflammation, but it should be noted that they lose their effectiveness with prolonged use. Immunomodulators, interferons, lactoferrin and fatty acids as well as painkillers can also be used.

When cats do not eat for a couple of days in a row, the development of other diseases and complications (hepatic lipidosis) that are life-threatening is possible. So I definitely recommend going to the vet.

In practice, it has been shown that medical treatment can temporarily contribute to disease control, but there are no long-term results.

Ultrasonic teeth cleaning has a minimal long-term effect since the bacteria in the oral cavity continue to grow very quickly after treatment. Cats are reluctant to brush their teeth daily at home.

In cats that do not respond to medication and regular plaque and tartar cleaning, the next step is required – complete extraction of all teeth, ie all teeth behind the upper and lower felines and / or excision of the affected tissue.

If there is any sign of inflammation of the mucous membrane around the incisors, then it is necessary to take them out as well.

According to research, 80% of cats no longer develop feline stomatitis after complete tooth extraction.

To make sure that all the tissue around the tooth that has reacted inflammatorily has been removed, an extraction of the wisdom tooth is required.

The most common mistakes that occur in practice are improper tooth extraction, when a small part of the tooth root remains in the jaw. Thus, surgical tooth extraction is required.

Feline gingivostomatitis is a potentially life-threatening condition in cats, very often a complex veterinary problem that often leads to frustration of the owner.

The biggest problem is the owner’s concern about how the cat will live and eat after extracting all the teeth. After recovery, the animal will have a normal quality of life and live without pain.

In the acute phase of the disease, the cat cannot eat dry food due to pain, and some cannot eat soft food. It is recommended in the first phase to soak dry food or strain soft to make sure the cat is eating.

After surgical extraction, cats continue to eat soft food 2-3 weeks after the procedure and conveniently continue pain therapy.

cat teeth


Periodontitis is a chronic infection that affects the tissue that surrounds and supports the teeth. It is a more serious disorder where inflammation of the periodontal ligament occurs and the formation of so-called pockets between the gums and teeth, and can also affect bone structures

Periodontitis can lead to tooth loss, and infections caused by bacteria can spread throughout the body to vital organs such as the heart, kidneys and liver.

With periodontitis, bad breath (halitosis) also occurs.

The disease develops gradually, so we distinguish four stages of periodontal disease. In the first two stages we talk about gingivitis, ie gingivitis, and in the third and fourth about periodontitis – inflammation of the supporting structures of the teeth, including bone.

Stages of the disease:

  1. These are small accumulations of plaque on the teeth along the gums, and such plaque is easily removed, and in the first phase the owner can help his pet by maintaining the hygiene of his oral cavity. This is where the role of the owner is most important and should be timely.
  2. The gums swell and their edge covering the tooth is inflamed. Proper oral hygiene is maintained, and at this stage the process is completely reversible.
  3. Pockets form under the gums, where food and hair are left behind and bacteria develop. The process is painful, and is accompanied by an extremely unpleasant bad breath, which is why owners most often seek the help of a veterinarian.

    For the treatment of third-degree periodontitis in cats, it is necessary to thoroughly clean the pockets and remove tartar under general anesthesia. After that, the teeth are polished to make their surface smooth, so tartar will settle less.
  4. There is already a loss of bone mass and the stability of the teeth is lost, which begins to climate. Such a tooth is difficult to cure and is usually extracted.


Proper prevention can greatly prevent the development of the disease. A big problem is non-cooperative animals whose owners can’t even look at their teeth, let alone rub them, so the only solution for such animals is thorough tartar cleaning as well as pocket curettage under general anesthesia.

The procedure is usually repeated once a year, and in some more often or less frequently, depending on the degree of development of changes in the gums.

In order to prevent problems in your cat’s oral cavity, it is useful to note that soft food is also a problem because there is an even stronger accumulation of dental plaque.

To prevent this at least a little, I advise you to treat the gums locally with some of the preparations that prevent the accumulation of dental plaque and soothe inflammation.

The bottom line is that you will need to take your cat to the vet for a complete dental checkup and to determine exactly why the teeth fell out.

cat open mouth


Gingivitis, s a syndrome of diseases of the oral cavity. It occurs mostly in middle-aged cats, but can also affect very young cats.

Although gingivostomatitis is a specific disease for cats, it can also occur in dogs. It is clinically manifested in the form of soft tissue inflammation, as well as the appearance of wounds in the oral cavity.

The disease is very painful for the pet and often, before the first symptoms are noticed at all, the disease is already at an advanced stage. The disease most commonly affects the gums, soft tissue, tongue, lips and throat.

It is still not completely clear why gingivitis occurs, but it is believed that its occurrence is affected by several causes.

One of the factors is certainly the weakened immunity of the pet, which then facilitates the harmful effects of bacteria in the oral cavity.

A detailed diagnosis is needed to rule out other possible illnesses, but if you notice sores on the edges of your lips and see your pet refuse solid foods and eat only soft or not eat at all, be sure to seek veterinarian advice so you can react in a timely manner and start with by treating your pet.

As the disease progresses, the diagnosis of the disease is different. That is, the diagnosis of this feline disease depends on the tissue affected by the changes.

The disease is most often detected when your pet refuses to take food or water. Unfortunately, this is already a sign that the disease has progressed.


In order to reduce the possibility of gingivitis in cats, it is necessary to carry out home dental hygiene. Dental hygiene in cats should be done two to three times a week using a cat toothbrush and toothpaste, and the pet should be systematically accustomed to the entire procedure.

If you can’t get your pet used to dental hygiene, you can use antiseptics and enzyme preparations as prevention. Although these agents are easy to apply, it should be noted that their effect is far less than with classical pet dental hygiene.

It is not bad, from time to time, to give your pet specialized food for cleaning soft deposits on the teeth, but even this method of cleaning does not give a 100% result, so it is recommended to take your pet for regular checkups with your veterinarian.

To prevent late detection of the disease, it is necessary to periodically examine your pet’s oral cavity, and check for plaque on the teeth and whether the cat has bad breath.

Your veterinarian can also draw your attention to these symptoms during a regular check-up of your pet.

The disease is impossible to cure with antibiotic therapy because in addition to bacteria, there are other factors of this disease.

In most cats with gingivostomatitis, the presence of a virus such as FeLV (feline leukemia) or FIV (feline AIDS) has also been detected.

Unfortunately, FIV and FeLV viruses have been proven to cause significant damage to the teeth themselves, so this problem is usually solved by removing the molars and premolars with additional medical treatment.

Although this method of treatment seems very radical to the owners, cats tolerate such treatment very well and very quickly after the procedure the patient starts consuming hard food, which greatly affects the quality of his life. In some cats, this is reflected in a change of character where there is no more aggression.

Do you have any questions? Let us know in the comments section below.