Cats are Experts at Hiding Dental Pain. Here’s How You Can Help

Dogs are good at hiding signs of oral pain, but cats are even better! Cats will continue to eat and act normally despite significant dental disease, so it’s very important that we have our cat’s teeth checked regularly.
Image courtesy of Dr. Mary Buelow


The two most common dental problems in cats are tooth resorption and periodontal disease. Tooth resorption is a painful condition where the tooth substance gets “eaten” away, or resorbs. This leads to exposure of the inner parts of the tooth and eventually tooth loss. Dental x-rays are required for diagnosis and treatment. This disease affects a large number of cats. For that reason, every cat having a dental procedure should have full-mouth x-rays. Unfortunately, we do not know what causes this disease and once a tooth has been affected, the process cannot be stopped. Extraction is the best treatment option to relieve pain and avoid infection.
Image courtesy of Dr. Mary Buelow


Periodontal disease starts as gingivitis and, if left untreated, progresses to loss of attachment around the teeth. Gingivitis and periodontal disease are caused by the build-up of plaque along the gumline. Because cats have such little teeth and roots, any amount of disease can be detrimental and can lead to tooth loss. Periodontal disease is best prevented by daily brushing, which can be difficult in such tiny mouths. Tips for brushing can be found in videos online or @mypetssmile on Instagram.
Other options for taking care of your kitties teeth at home include dental diets, treats, and wipes. Dental wipes are a very useful alternative to brushing and just the act of wiping the teeth can remove plaque, which is a huge benefit. Foods and treats geared towards chewing will help to disrupt plaque but are limited to the back chewing teeth.
Good dental health in our furry felines can lead to longer and happier lives, so don’t forget to have your cat’s itty bitty kitty teeth checked out!

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Dr. Mary Buelow

Dr. Mary Buelow is a Board-Certified Veterinary Dentist practicing in Leesburg, VA. She lives with her husband, two rescue dogs (Frankie and Noodle) and two rescue cats (Kitten and Squash), for a total of 135 teeth. We won't say who's missing what...

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