Tartar and Tooth Loss in Cats – Symptoms and Treatment Tips

Tartar and tooth loss, so-called “periodontitis” are common in cats. Bacteria colonize thin soft coatings of, among other things, food residues on the surface of the teeth. These so-called “plaques”, with the help of saliva become calcified and form tartar.

The adjacent gums are often attacked by the bacteria and the cat can get a gingivitis, gingivitis. At first, the gingivitis may be local, around one or a couple of teeth, but eventually larger and larger parts of the oral cavity are usually affected. Thick layers of tartar can form on the teeth and the gums often turn red and bleed easily. The jawbone that the tooth is stuck in also eventually suffers from the inflammation whereby the toothbone breaks down.

Deep pockets between the tooth, gums and gums make it easier for the bacteria to grow and the tooth begins to lose its attachment. In the deep pockets, the environment for bacteria is particularly favorable and in some cases, malicious rotten bacteria that do not tolerate oxygen, anaerobic bacteria, can gain a foothold. Then the disease can worsen very quickly and many teeth can become loose in a short time due to the jawbone around the tooth being dissolved.


Many people seek help because the cat smells bad from the mouth. The pet owner may see tartar and sometimes experience that the cat eats worse than before or does not eat at all. Tooth loss can also be shown by the fact that the cat may have difficulty chewing hard food and may, in connection with food intake, get light-bleeding gums.

Which cats are affected?

It’s not just old cats that are affected, even though they are in the majority. Some cat breeds and especially some individuals are more affected. The dental disease FORL is probably as common as periodontitis in cats and they often occur at the same time.


If the tooth loss disease has progressed far, some teeth cannot be saved due to insufficient attachment to the jawbone. In the deep pockets, around one or more of the tooth’s roots, the bacteria thrive and the disease can continue. There is then a great risk that the cat has a toothache or that it hurts when the cat chews. Bleeding and fistula formation are not uncommon when it has gone this far.

When the tooth loss is far gone, it is usually better to pull out the affected teeth. There is a risk that it will otherwise cause a long suffering for the cat. If the pockets are not so deep, the process can normally be stopped by a combination of cleaning under anesthesia and preventive measures. Maybe the gums can get attached to the tooth root again, however, the lost jawbone can not regenerate. It is therefore important to get to treatment as early as possible.


The most harmful tartar is hidden under the gum line. This is where the bacteria that cause tooth decay grow. Scraping with a tartar scraper on an awake cat does not do much good to prevent the disease from advancing. On the contrary, it can hide how serious the situation is if only the visible tartar is removed and it does not become clean under the gum line.

To be able to perform a professional tooth cleaning, the cat needs to be anesthetized. Then it is possible to pull out loose teeth and teeth with advanced tooth loss. Even teeth that are fractured or that are so badly placed that they cause problems for the teeth next to them, may need to be extracted. It is not uncommon for significantly more teeth than those detected in connection with the clinical examination to be extracted, which is detected in connection with anesthesia.

In order to be able to follow the development of the disease, and to be able to read the results of the treatment and aftercare, the tooth pockets around each tooth are usually measured in connection with the tartar removal. This is noted in a dental record that is easy to follow up when needed.

It is also important to get an idea of ​​how much treatment the cat needs, and possibly plan for a division of the treatment into several treatment sessions. Repeated dental treatments for periodontitis are suitably performed when several time-consuming measures need to be performed, such as extraction of several large teeth.


X-rays are a valuable aid in the treatment of periodontitis. In this way, the development of periodontitis can be followed and painful processes such as abscesses at the tooth roots can be more easily detected. The type of disease that cats can suffer from (FORL), which breaks down the tooth from the inside and causes painful holes, can also be detected early with the help of dental x-rays.


Prevention is the best method to avoid tooth loss. Although some teeth are already affected, the disease can be prevented and prevented from spreading and more teeth are affected by periodontitis. Daily tooth removal on your cat is the most effective way to prevent it. Remember to look the cat in the mouth regularly.

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