Feline Oral Disease

Feline Oral Disease

While dogs and cats share common dental problems, feline patients may encounter unique dental conditions. At Animal Dental Care & Oral Surgery, our comprehensive examinations prioritize the identification and treatment of “cat-specific” diseases, ensuring your feline friends receive specialized care tailored to their unique needs.

Remember, a vigilant approach to feline dental health contributes to the overall well-being and happiness of our beloved companions.

Feline Stomatitis

Stomatitis, also known as Lymphocytic Plasmacytic Stomatitis/Faucitis or Ulcerative Stomatitis is a very debilitating disease of cats that can lead to loss of all the teeth at a very early age. Although the causes are not known, the disease is possibly caused by an inappropriate overreaction of the immune system to plaque that is normally present on the teeth. This heightened immune response leads to severe oral inflammation, oral ulcers, foul breath, resorption of hard dental tissues, and difficulty in eating, sometimes at a very early age.

Viral infection may play some role in this disease, but nothing has been proven at the time of this writing (Jan. 2024). Some patients have large areas of their oral cavity affected with painful, raw areas. This can be a very debilitating condition for the cat.

A large amount of anecdotal information exists on the internet regarding miracle cures for this condition. If proven effective and medical treatments are developed in the future, our veterinary dental specialists will be at the forefront in utilizing and publicizing this information. A few cats respond to medical treatment, which revolves around meticulous plaque control and anti-inflammatory medication. Other treatment strategies include drugs that modify the immune response of the patient such as cyclosporine. In Europe, some success has been seen using Feline Omega Interferon, but results in the U.S. have been less encouraging.

For most cats, extraction of all the teeth provides the best solution, usually resulting in a much happier patient shortly after surgery. Interestingly, after treatment these cats will frequently prefer dry food, even though they have no teeth! Although this treatment might seem overly aggressive, owners are uniformly pleased with the results a few weeks down the road.

Feline Tooth Resorption

Feline Tooth Resorption has many names, including Feline Odontoclastic Tooth Resorption, Feline Cavities, Neck Lesions, Cervical Erosions, Cervical Cavities, and others. Most cats over the age of five have one or more of these painful cavities at or under the gum line. If your cat has “missing teeth”, they quite likely have been lost from this process. They start as small defects in the tooth structure just under the gum line, and progress to painful invasion of the tooth by cells that gradually remove tooth structure and replace it with bone.

The areas of tooth resorption commonly become visible above the gum line as fleshy pink areas of gum tissue. The nerve is frequently involved in the process, causing discomfort. Many times the weakened tooth breaks off, leaving painful retained roots in the jaw. The lesions can appear to be very small, yet can be associated with a large loss of tooth structure. Treatment usually involves extraction, as these teeth are not amenable to restoration.

When extracting these teeth, every effort should be made to remove all of the root structure. Some practitioners incorrectly treat these teeth by simply cutting off the visible part of the tooth, leaving the root structures in place under the gum line to be hopefully resorbed over time. This inferior form of treatment can leave painful roots in place for the rest of the cat’s life. Although this technique is occasionally appropriate, dental X-rays are needed to guide correct treatment. Can you imagine how you would feel if you had a tooth “extracted” and all they did was drill the visible part of the tooth away, leaving the roots in place? In the majority of cases, the roots of feline teeth can and should be extracted in their entirety.

Feline Fractured Canine Teeth

Cats, in comparison to dogs, have a lower incidence of fractured teeth. However, a specific type of fracture is notable, particularly in their canine (fang) teeth. These fractures often manifest as minute fissures at the tips of the canines, easily escaping visual detection.

Despite their subtle appearance, these small fractures in the fangs can lead to significant issues. The most concerning consequence is the exposure of the pulp chamber, the nerve chamber within the tooth. This exposure, although minimal, increases the risk of infection, potentially resulting in the demise of the affected tooth.

The challenge lies in the difficulty of visualizing these fractures due to their size. Many cats may exhibit extensive damage to the tooth below the gum line, yet the outward appearance remains deceptively normal. Therefore, close inspection becomes imperative, necessitating thorough examination under anesthesia and the use of dental radiographs.


Regardless of the size of the fracture, any suspicion of a fractured fang tooth in a cat warrants immediate attention. Early diagnosis empowers timely intervention, allowing for the preservation of the tooth and sparing the feline from the enduring pain associated with long-term infection.

By advocating for regular check-ups, thorough examinations, and proactive intervention, we can ensure the longevity of our feline friends’ dental health, sparing them from unnecessary pain and complications.

If you have concerns or questions, feel free to reach out to our team for further guidance.

Juvenile-Onset Gingivitis/Periodontitis

We occasionally see the development of bright red gums (gingivitis) in young cats around 6 to 9 months of age. Oftentimes, these cats have little or no calculus accumulation. The exact cause is unknown, however, some theories include: viruses, breed disposition (more common in certain purebred cats such as Persians, Siamese and Abyssinians), genetic and environmental influences, immune suppression, and of course, plaque and calculus build up.

Initially, the gingivitis is mild and localized, but it may progress in some kittens to very severe inflammation with bleeding of the tissues around the teeth. If left untreated, these areas frequently develop areas of tooth resorption (feline cavities) and bone loss around the teeth.

Treatment of juvenile gingivitis includes eliminating and preventing plaque and calculus formation by performing a thorough teeth cleaning and polishing. Many of these patients require a brief dental cleaning every 3-6 months to remove accumulated plaque. This is followed by aggressive home care that may include sprays, rinses, water additives and, if tolerated, brushing the teeth. Fortunately, some cats seem to outgrow the disease by two years of age.

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