Dental Abscess in Cats

Dental problems occur frequently in cats over the age of 3. Dental abscess is also common, but may be prevented with a constant dental hygiene. A dental abscess can be caused by a decayed or fractured tooth that gives harmful bacteria access to the root of the tooth, forming pus, redness and swelling. A dental abscess can be treated once detected and the tooth can be saved.

Causes of Feline Dental Abscess

The most probable cause of a feline dental abscess is a lack of dental hygiene. The film of plaque will turn into calculus or tartar and the bacteria will attack the tooth, causing decay. As the tooth decay advances, it may infect the area around the tooth and cause an abscess.

An abscess can also be caused by feline ondoclastic resorptive lesions (FORL), or a fracture that will cause an infection due to the accumulation of bacteria in the area.

Symptoms of Dental Abscess

A cat with a dental abscess display the following symptoms:

  • Halitosis or bad breath
  • Excessive drooling
  • Swollen face
  • Pawing the face and area of the abscessed tooth
  • Swelling visible on the gum tissue
  • Bleeding gums
  • Lack of appetite

The cat will also avoid grooming and may develop skin infections due to the lack of proper grooming.

If the dental abscess is not treated in a timely manner, it can lead to an advanced infection of the oral cavity. The bacteria may enter the bloodstream and affect the rest of the body.

Diagnosis of an Abscess

A dental abscess can be diagnosed at home if you take a look your pet's teeth. You may notice the swelling and the gums may also be white where the pus has accumulated. A vet can confirm the diagnosis through an examination and x-rays.

Treatment Options

A dental abscess should be treated with antibiotics, which will remove the pus and reduce the swelling. The type of antibiotic will be established by the vet according to the severity of the infection and the cause of the abscess.

After the area is healed, the vet will have to deal with the dental decay, lesions or the fracture, and establish if the tooth can be saved or if an extraction is needed.

Prevention of Dental Abscesses

Dental decay can be prevented with regular teeth cleaning and a kibble food diet or chew treats. Ask your vet to recommend a suitable toothbrush and toothpaste for your pet, and start brushing his teeth daily to remove the deposits of plaque and prevent tartar. Dental diseases are very painful, so you will help your cat even if he doesn't like it when you start brushing his teeth.

Dental fractures can be hindered by eliminating objects that may present the risk of fractures. These objects may be hard foods, chew toys that are not suitable for your cat’s size, staples, paper clips or other small, rough objects.

Unfortunately, the cause of feline ondoclastic resorptive lesions is not known, so this cannot be prevented.