Bacterial diseases

Most Common Dental Problems in Cats

María Besteiros
By María Besteiros, Expert veterinary assistant and canine/feline hairdresser.. October 27, 2020
Most Common Dental Problems in Cats

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Dental problems in cats is one of the most common diseases seen in veterinary practise. This is why today at AnimalWised we want to share with you the most common dental problems in cats. We'll go over each of them and how to prevent these diseases.

Keep reading to learn more!

You may also be interested in: My Dog's Gums Are Bleeding - Gingivitis in Dogs
  1. Most common dental problems in cats
  2. Feline periodontal disease
  3. Feline resorptive lesions
  4. Feline gingivostomatitis
  5. How to prevent dental problems in cats

Most common dental problems in cats

Dental problems in cats are some of the most common diseases in veterinary practice. It's difficult to detect these pathologies at home due to their location and late symptoms. For this reason, they quickly develop and begin to cause serious damage in the cat's mouth, such as the loss of teeth. To avoid reaching this point, we must take the necessary steps to prevent dental diseases in our cat.

Most feline oral problems can be prevented with proper hygiene, both domestic and professional. In addition, it is advisable to check the feline's mouth routinely to detect the disease in time. So, what are the most common dental problems in cats? These are the following:

  • Feline periodontal disease
  • Feline resorptive injury
  • Feline gingivostomatitis

Continue reading to learn more about each and how you can prevent these dental diseases.

Most Common Dental Problems in Cats - Most common dental problems in cats

Feline periodontal disease

The feline periodontal disease is the most common pathology in cats as it appears in around 80% of domestic cats older than 2 or 3 years.

What is feline periodontal disease?

Feline periodontal disease is a series of pathological processes that affect the structures that hold the teeth to the mouth, such as the gums, periodontal ligaments, and alveolar bone. It can result in your cat loosing their teeth, as well as being in discomfort and lowering their quality of life.


Like most dental problems in cats, this disease appears due to poor hygiene. The remains of food and certain substances in saliva accumulate on the teeth, helping the establishment of bacteria that form the well-known plaques.

If the disease progresses, bacteria enters the alveolar hole and begins to affect the gums, ligaments and bones, producing periodontitis. Little by little, the teeth lose their grip and eventually fall out.


During this process, the absence of oxygen in the alveolar gap favors the appearance of anaerobic bacteria, which release smelly sulfur compounds. Therefore, the main symptom of periodontitis is halitosis or bad smell from the mouth. Other symptoms are the appearance of plaques and stones on the teeth, difficulty eating and even anorexia.

Therefore, all in all, the symptoms include:

  • Bad breath
  • Plaques and stones on teeth
  • Difficulty eating
  • Anorexia


To avoid the appearance of this type of dental problems in cats, daily cleaning of the teeth is very important. Additionally, annual professional cleaning is recommended to remove plaque and calculus.


When this dental disease already exists, it is necessary to apply drugs, such as antibiotics and anti-inflammatories. If the periodontitis is very advanced, the extraction of the affected teeth and even a deeper surgical intervention may also be necessary. If your cat is exhibiting any of the symptoms mentioned above, you must take them to the veterinarian as soon as possible.

Feline resorptive lesions

Feline resorptive lesions is one of the main oral problems in cats. It is estimated that it appears in up to 75% of felines, being more common in the elderly.

What is feline resorptive lesions?

Also known as tooth resorption in cats, these lesions results in the destruction of calcified dental tissues, enamel, dentin and cementum. Over time, all areas of an affected tooth may become involved. There are two types of tooth resorption in cats:

  • Type 1: there is destruction in the crown but the root appears to remain normal.
  • Type 2: both the crown and root appear to be damaged.


The cause of this lesion is the abnormal activation of cells known as odontoclasts, which begin to destroy the neck and root of the teeth. The reason why these cells are activated is still unknown, although it has been associated with other dental problems in cats, such as periodontitis.

It has also been linked to certain viruses, such as feline immunodeficiency, herpesvirus, and feline calicivirus. Other studies defend that it may be due to failures in the mineralization of the teeth, either of genetic origin or due to a diet deficient in minerals.


Regarding symptoms, cats with feline tooth resorption may exhibit the following symptoms:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Bad breath
  • Excess salivation
  • Head shaking
  • Weight loss

If your cat is experiencing any of these symptoms, it's very important for you to take them to the veterinarian as soon as possible.


Currently, the suggested methods of managing these lesions are conservative management, tooth extraction and coronal amputation. These are all serious treatments, therefore, it's best to help your cat maintain healthy dental hygiene and to take them to the veterinarian if you see any abnormal behaviour.

Most Common Dental Problems in Cats - Feline resorptive lesions

Feline gingivostomatitis

Gingivostomatitis is one of the main oral diseases in cats. This disease is very painful and is characterised by inflammation in the mouth.

What is feline gingivostomatitis?

Feline gingivostomatitis is a very serious inflammation of the mouth that can appear locally, or affect the entire oral cavity, including the gums, pharynx and even the tongue. When the disease progresses, it can affect the tissues around the teeth, causing alveolar mucositis.


The cause of gingivostomatitis is an infection, which can be bacterial or viral. Pasteurella multocida and Tannerella forsythia are two examples of bacteria that have been linked to this type of health issues.

Viruses include calicivirus, immunodeficiency virus, and feline leukemia virus. However, the cause of the severity of this disease is not the microorganisms, but the uncontrolled reaction of the cat's immune system when it detects them on the mucosa or plaque.


As a consequence of the inflammation, the cat has lesions in their mouth that prevent them from grooming themselves and eating normally. Other symptoms include:

  • Oral pain
  • Weight loss
  • Drooling
  • Inflammation in mouth


Treatment consists in professionally cleaning the teeth and administrating antibiotics, anti-inflammatories and analgesics for the infection. In severe cases, it may be necessary to remove the affected teeth or another type of surgical intervention.

Most Common Dental Problems in Cats -

How to prevent dental problems in cats

Now that we've gone through the most common dental diseases in cats, it's time to take a look at what we can do to prevent it from happening. Here are our top tips for caring for a cat with a healthy dental hygiene:

  • Daily brushing: just as we brush our teeth, it's important to establish a dental hygiene routine for our cats. By brushing their teeth we help them prevent these dental diseases and promote a healthy dental hygiene. A great tip is to start this routine as soon as possible so your cat gets used to it.
  • Toothpaste and tooth brush: remember to purchase feline toothpaste and toothbrush. Human toothpaste is toxic to cats and a human toothbrush isn't as effective on their teeth.
  • Toys and treats: there are certain toys and treats that promote dental hygiene in cats. Ask your veterinarian or visit your local pet shop to learn about which are available to you.
  • Regular veterinarian check-ups: lastly, it's very important to take your cat to the veterinarian for regular check-ups every 3-6 months. This will help detect any health issues early on before it gets too serious.

If you found this article useful, you may also be interested in our video about how to help a cat live longer.

This article is purely informative. AnimalWised does not have the authority to prescribe any veterinary treatment or create a diagnosis. We invite you to take your pet to the veterinarian if they are suffering from any condition or pain.

If you want to read similar articles to Most Common Dental Problems in Cats, we recommend you visit our Bacterial diseases category.

  • Reiter, AM, Johnston, N., Anderson, JG, Soltero ‐ Rivera, MM, & Lobprise, HB (2019). Domestic Feline Oral and Dental Diseases . Wiggs's Veterinary Dentistry: Principles and Practice, 439-461.
  • Stepaniuk, K. (2019). Periodontology . Wiggs's Veterinary Dentistry: Principles and Practice, 81-108.
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