Your cat's oral health is an important part of her or his overall well being. Gingivitis, plaque, and tartar can allow bacteria to enter the bloodstream and affect organs such as the kidneys and heart. Brushing your cat's teeth may seem daunting but can be accomplished with patience, special flavoured toothpastes and toothbrushes designed with kitty in mind. Special diets can also help remove tartar and plaque. For some cats with significant tartar buildup, a thorough cleaning under anesthesia is necessary.
Some cats may have additional problems beyond tartar and gingivitis. Feline oral resorptive lesions (FORL's) are very common in cats. The cause is largely unknown but a genetic basis is suspected. Painful cavities are created in the teeth by osteoclasts (bone remodelling cells). Treatment is the extraction of any affected teeth.
Many cats will continue to eat hard foods even though they have painful holes in their teeth. You may notice symptoms such as chewing on only one side, or swallowing whole kibbles, dropping food, or pawing at the mouth. Once the painful teeth are removed, your pet will be comfortable and many owners notice more playfulness and energy.
Some cats may also develop an extreme inflammation of the gums and inner surfaces of the mouth. This is usually due to an overstimulated immune system. This condition is very painful, causing weight loss, drooling, and difficulty eating. Testing is recommended for infections with FELV, FIV, and calicivirus to determine the best course of treatment.