Six Common Cat Dental Conditions and Diseases (And How To Avoid Them)

Did you know that dental conditions and diseases are among the most common reasons cats visit the vet? It’s true! Most cats three years old or older have some sort of dental problem. It could be minor, like a slight gum inflammation. Or, something bigger could be taking hold. And, pet parents won’t be able to spot many of the more severe dental conditions. Sure, you may notice some symptoms or signs of distress. But, you’ll need a professional eye or even an X-ray. Fortunately, keeping your cat’s teeth strong and healthy is easier than ever. That way, they have no problems eating, aren’t in pain, and generally are happier. In this article, we’ll explain:

  • How to Spot Dental Problems in Cats
  • Six Common Dental Illnesses for Cats
  • How to Avoid Dental Injuries or Illness in Cats

Let’s get started!

How To Spot Dental Problems Cats

Common signs of dental problems in cats are when they shake their heads, chatter their jaw, or start pawing at their mouth. They may also drop food from their mouth when eating, show difficulty swallowing, or drool a lot. Finally, horrible breath or blood in their saliva are signs of problems. If you notice these symptoms, it’s time for a vet visit! And while you’re waiting to see the doctor, here are some possible causes for your cat’s discomfort:

Six Common Dental Illnesses for Cats

The six most common dental illnesses for cats are;

  1. Feline Tooth Resorption Syndrome
  2. Dental Epulis
  3. Malocclusions
  4. Periodontal Disease
  5. Complicated Dental Fractures
  6. Uncomplicated Dental Fractures

Let’s look at each one more closely.

Feline Tooth Resorption Syndrome

Feline Tooth Resorption Syndrome is when cells called odontoclasts start damaging a cat’s tooth and dental material. They result in painful inflammatory lesions that are like cavities for cats. Symptoms include pink lesions around the gumline of an affected tooth. And, you may notice your cat’s eating habits becoming messier. They may also regurgitate their food. Or, they’ll tilt their head when chewing. Unfortunately, the best way to treat this is by removing the tooth.


Malocclusion is a fancy way of saying, “misaligned teeth.” Some types, or classes, of this disease are genetic. Many cats don’t present many symptoms, although the problem is likely causing them some pain. But, you may notice a foul odor coming from their mouths. Or, there’ll be some oral bleeding. It often presents when your pet is young. And, usually, it doesn’t require any treatment. Sometimes, however, it’s worth removing or moving the tooth to help the rest of the teeth stay aligned.

Periodontal Disease

The most common dental ailment for pets, periodontal disease starts with inflammation of the gums, the bone around the root of a tooth, and ligaments which attach each tooth to the bone. So, everything surrounding and supporting your pet’s teeth. It usually takes hold due to poor dental hygiene and occurs when plaque secretes toxins that lead to breakdown. Catching periodontal disease early is key. Then, treatment is often just a matter of regularly removing plaque. As it gets worse, your pet may need antibiotics, work on the roots of their teeth, or even surgery.

Complicated Dental Fractures

These are severe tooth fractures usually caused by accident or chewing on very hard objects that can break a tooth. Once again, symptoms include tilting their head while eating, messy eating, and regurgitating food. Depending on the severity, a vet usually performs a root canal or pulls the tooth.

Uncomplicated Dental Fractures

Uncomplicated dental fractures include minor abrasions, problems with tooth enamel, or minor breaks on a tooth. They usually don’t cause too much pain. In fact, you may only realize something’s wrong by spotting a crack or missing piece of a tooth. Or if a whole tooth or part of one is discolored. Once again, these issues are often caused by some sort of trauma or chewing on something that’s too hard. In some cases, they’re not even worth putting your cat through the discomfort of a procedure. Alternatively, your vet can restore tooth enamel, perform a root canal, or pull a bad tooth.

How To Avoid Dental Injuries Or Illness In Cats

We hope you’re not too scared about what could go wrong in your cat’s mouth! The truth is, most of these issues are very easy to avoid. Here are six easy ways:

  1. Annual Checkups
  2. Regular Cleaning
  3. Teeth Brushing
  4. Dental Supplements
  5. Dental Chews

Prevention is key! That means regular checkups and cleaning. And brush their teeth at home, too. These steps are often much easier to handle when you have cat insurance. Then, many of your vet visits are covered. And, you won’t go out of pocket for a procedure. That makes it much more financially viable to nip a small problem in the bud with an extraction, root canal, or another strategy. Finally, buying dental chews is an excellent proactive measure. Like brushing teeth, these snacks or toys promote good dental hygiene by naturally scraping away tartar and plaque.