Do Cats get Tooth Decay?
Note the redness around the gum line
This is a sign of FORL which causes toothache in cats
Decay and Toothache in Cats
Cats do get bad teeth but they are not usually the same as
cavities in humans. The most common dental problem found in cats
is a condition called Feline odontoclastic
resorptive lesions (FORL)
Sometimes the FORLs are obvious (see
picture above) but sometimes they are only evident from x-ray
images. Decay is usually
below the gum line.
FORLs are classified from 1 to 5 depending on
It is believed that up to two thirds of all
cats over the age of five will suffer from FORLs at some stage.
What are the
symptoms of bad teeth in cats?
FORLs cause a great deal of pain. The pain
may be so intense that even under general anesthetic the cat may
twitch when the tooth is probed.
The first symptom you may notice may be the
cat's reluctance to eat. Any pressure on the tooth is extremely
painful. The cat may be very hungry and will attempt to eat but
drops the food when he gets it in his mouth.
A cat may reach a point where he no longer
attempts to eat and he becomes thin and loses condition. He may
also refuse to drink and become dehydrated.
The cat may drool excessively.
You may notice bleeding from your cat's
Breath is another indication.
The cat flinches or cries out in pain when you touch him
in the mouth region.
He may paw at the mouth.
On examination of your cat's teeth you may
notice a red line or redness and swelling at the point where the tooth meets the gum.
The picture at the top of the page shows a
case of bleeding at the gum line.
What is the
Treatment for Toothache in cats?
Usually extraction of the diseased tooth or
teeth instantly restores your cat to his former self. Once the
tooth is removed he is free of pain and can continue a normal
life. Even if a cat has all of his teeth extracted he soon
adapts and can still eat most foods including dry food.
Note the redness
around the base of the cat's left canine tooth which suggests FORL
The extracted tooth. Decay
is predominantly below the gum line
Other Causes of Mouth Pain
Gingivitis (inflammation of the gums)
Periodontitis (inflammation of the tissue surrounding the teeth)
Bone or foreign body stuck between the teeth
Feline Leukemia Virus
Check your cat's teeth and gums regularly. The easiest way to
do this is run a cotton bud or Q Tip around the gum line. If
there is any sign of blood or pain get your vet to check it out.
This article is for
information purposes only and is in no way intended to replace veterinary