Relief for a Cat's Toothache

by Quentin Coleman, Demand Media
    Dental diseases are among the most common health issues in cats.

    Dental diseases are among the most common health issues in cats.

    Cats may keep their coats clean, but their teeth are a different story. Many domestic cats develop dental problems as they get older, especially if they don't get professional dental work every year. The appropriate pain relief for your kitty's toothache depends on the treatment for the exact problems she's having.

    Identifying Dental Pain

    Even if your cat is sensitive to your pain and emotional state, don't expect her to be open about her own problems. Cats usually hide their pain until it becomes unbearable, so it's a good idea to keep your eye out for signs of discomfort. If your cat has chronic bad breath, is unwilling to eat dry food or frequently paws at her mouth, then she is probably suffering from tooth or mouth pain. Take a look inside your cat's mouth if you notice any of these signs. Don't jam your fingers into her jaw, but try to get a good look by lifting her lips gently with your finger. Look at her gums to make sure there's no swelling or redness. Check her teeth for breaks and fractures.

    Diagnosis

    Schedule a vet appointment to have your pet's teeth checked out. Don't give him anything for the pain just yet, talk to the vet first. If your kitty refuses dry food completely, try giving him wet food until you can get him to the vet. Periodontal disease, gingivitis and resorptive lesions are all really common in cats, especially those who don't get regular tooth cleanings. Red or bleeding gums signal gingivitis, which usually precedes periodontal disease. This problem can affect many teeth at once, and may cause a lot of discomfort for your kitty. Resorptive lesions are more localized, often affecting just one or two teeth.

    Temporary Pain Relief

    Dental pain can really stress your cat out, and it may be impossible for the vet to give her a proper checkup if her mouth is sensitive. Your vet may use anesthesia to knock your cat out while he works on her teeth. Your vet will prescribe painkillers to take home if necessary. Don't give your cat any people drugs. Substances in drugs like Tylenol are dangerous for felines.

    Permanent Pain Relief

    In many cases, the solution to dental pain is simple: pull the tooth. If a tooth is bad enough that it creates constant pain, then it is probably safer to just remove it. Damaged or rotting teeth allow infections to enter your cat's body and exposed nerves cause persistent pain. Take your cat in for tooth cleanings once or twice every year. Ask your vet about special treats and food that boost feline dental health. You can even try brushing your cat's teeth every day, but even annual cleanings make a big difference in preventing tooth pain.

    About the Author

    Quentin Coleman has written for several news publications as well as the University of Delaware's public relations department. He also spent more than 10 years working with a local animal shelter to help nurse kittens, treat sick cats and domesticate feral animals. Coleman graduated from the University of Delaware with a bachelor's degree in journalism.

    Photo Credits

    • Michael Blann/Lifesize/Getty Images