Infected Teeth in Cats

by Jane Meggitt, Demand Media Google
    I feel so much better since that tooth came out.

    I feel so much better since that tooth came out.

    Kitty's just miserable. He can't eat because his mouth hurts so much from an infected tooth. You know how bad it feels to have a toothache, so take him to the vet as soon as possible so she can diagnose and treat the problem.

    Symptoms

    If Kitty's suffering from dental problems he's likely to have symptoms in addition to loss of appetite or difficulty chewing. His breath probably smells bad, he drools and, if he's in pain, he might paw at his mouth as if to relieve the discomfort. Kitty might become lethargic or irritable. Can you blame him? He feels terrible and has no way to tell you, other than trusting you'll notice his misery.

    Abscess

    Infected teeth often abscess. This occurs when bacteria get into the tooth's root. If you've ever had an abscessed tooth or undergone a root canal, you have a pretty good idea of what Kitty's going through. In cats, abscesses might result from fractured teeth or just ordinary tooth decay. Kitty's face might swell up and he'll be in a lot of pain. Untreated abscesses can cause infection to travel throughout Kitty's body, possibly killing the cat. Your vet can perform a root canal to save Kitty's tooth, although many owners opt for simple extraction.

    Treatment

    In most cases, your vet will remove Kitty's infected tooth. However, if the infection results in an abscess, Kitty must receive antibiotics first to resolve the infection before any tooth extraction. If the abscess is very large, your vet might need to lance it first to relieve the pressure and drain the pus. After Kitty's tooth is removed, your vet prescribes pain medication and possibly antibiotics. Kitty should eat soft foods for several days while his mouth heals. If you notice any swelling, excessive bleeding, bad odors or pus in his mouth, call the vet.

    Prevention

    Some feline tooth infections can be prevented by good, regular oral care. Try brushing Kitty's teeth every day to prevent tartar build-up. He might learn to like it, especially since the toothpastes are fish or chicken-flavored. According to the Cat Hospital of Chicago, tartar pushes the gums away from the roots of the teeth, loosening the teeth from their sockets and making it easier for infection to enter. Familiarize yourself with Kitty's mouth, so you notice any changes immediately. If Kitty isn't keen on tooth brushing, take him to vet every six months for dental check-ups, just as you go to your own dentist.

    About the Author

    Jane Meggitt has been a writer for more than 20 years. In addition to reporting for a major newspaper chain, her work has appeared in "Horse News," "Suburban Classic," "Hoof Beats," "Equine Journal" and other publications. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English from New York University and an Associate of Arts from the American Academy of Dramatics Arts, New York City.

    Photo Credits

    • BananaStock/BananaStock/Getty Images