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What are Dental Abscess?

Three types of dental abscesses can form under the tooth of a cat. The first type is a gingival abscess, which primarily affects gum tissue. The second is a periodontal abscess, which affects the gums directly. The third type of abscess is called a periapical abscess and it affects the pulp of the tooth. The canine teeth are the most common to abscess as they are the easiest to be broken. Veterinary attention should be sought out immediately as abscesses can burst from too much pressure and cause large wounds in the cat's face. Infection can also spread throughout the body and compromise vital organs.

When tooth decay occurs in a cat, bacteria can spread down into the root of the tooth. The bacteria disintegrates the tissue in and around the tooth, forming a cavity. The cavity then fills with dead white blood cells and more bacteria. This foul-smelling fluid is called “pus”. A pus-filled cavity under a tooth is commonly referred to as a dental abscess. The gum tissue surrounding the abscess often becomes red and inflamed. 

Dental Abscess Average Cost

From 390 quotes ranging from $500 - $1,500

Average Cost

$900

Symptoms of Dental Abscess in Cats

If you suspect any symptoms of a pus cavity or abscess forming under your cat’s tooth, go to your vet as soon as possible. Infections within the abscess have the potential to develop into a systemic bacterial infection, which is life-threatening. Symptoms you should watch for include:

  • Round, visible bump in the mouth
  • Drooling
  • Pawing at mouth
  • Nose bleeds
  • Swollen face
  • Draining wound
  • Inability to eat
  • Weight loss
  • Loose tooth
  • Discoloration of tooth
  • Bad breath
  • Decrease in grooming
  • Fever
  • Sneezing
  • Lethargy
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Causes of Dental Abscess in Cats

Any condition or occurrence that erodes or breaks a cat’s tooth can cause a dental abscess to form. Some underlying issues may dispose a cat to dental issues and tooth decay. These issues should be looked for to help prevent further abscess formation. Some main causes for pus cavities under the teeth are:

  • Trauma (often from being hit by a car)
  • Biting on a hard substance
  • FORL (feline odontoclastic resorptive) lesions that slowly absorb adult teeth back into the body
  • Untreated periodontal disease
  • Poor oral hygiene
  • Mouth burn (often from chewing electric cables)
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Diagnosis of Dental Abscess in Cats

Diagnosis of a dental abscess is often quite simple. The veterinarian will perform a physical examination of the cat, focusing much time on the mouth and face. Visual confirmation of a pus cavity is often all that is needed to diagnose the issue. The vet may need to differentiate a dental abscess from an eye infection or a puncture wound if swelling of the face is the main symptom present. 

An X-ray may be required to identify the source of the bacterial infection and monitor the surrounding teeth for any spreading. Blood tests may be performed including a complete blood count and a biochemical profile to determine overall health and identify possible underlying issues. If the cat has undergone major trauma, other more severe injuries may need to be treated first.

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Treatment of Dental Abscess in Cats

Treatment should be administered quickly to relieve the abscess before it bursts. The larger the abscess has become, the more dangerous the infection can be to the cat. 

Drain & Clean 

The first step in treating a cat with a dental abscess is to sedate it (possibly with general anesthesia), and lance the abscess to drain out all of the pus. The cavity will then be thoroughly cleaned. Antibiotics may be injected at this time to curb infection.

Root Canal 

If the tissue surrounding the abscess is still intact, and the abscess itself is small in size, your veterinarian may choose to perform a root canal. This procedure can save the tooth while still removing all dead or infected tissue. Many veterinarians will refer the cat to a dental specialist for this procedure.

Extraction 

Often, the tooth and surrounding areas are too decayed to save. In this case, a full removal of the tooth will be performed. The infection has to be decreased prior to extraction surgery or serious complications may arise. Cold packs can be used post surgery to bring down swelling and reduce pain. 

Antibiotics 

After a dental abscess has been removed, antibiotics will be prescribed for seven to ten days to rid the body of harmful bacteria. 

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Recovery of Dental Abscess in Cats

A follow-up exam will be scheduled one to two weeks after your cat has been treated. At this time, your veterinarian will perform a sensitivity test on the affected tooth and check for any signs of infection. You may have to administer pain medication at home while the cat recovers. Sometimes, a diet of soft food is recommended while the mouth is healing. No chew toys should be allowed until after the gum has healed over completely.

It is important to have your cat’s teeth and mouth checked at least twice a year to prevent the formation of tooth decay. Raw meats, small uncooked bones, or hard kibble may help scrape off plaque and keep teeth clean. Maintain your cat’s dental hygiene by brushing its teeth twice weekly with cat-specific toothpaste. If your cat is of a breed susceptible to dental issues (such as Siamese, Burmese, Persian and Somali breeds), take extra care to ensure teeth are kept clean. Check your cat’s mouth for broken teeth, bad breath, or lesions on a regular basis.

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Dental Abscess Average Cost

From 390 quotes ranging from $500 - $1,500

Average Cost

$900

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Dental Abscess Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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Ask a Vet

dog-name-icon

Misty

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Domestic house cat

dog-age-icon

19 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

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2 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Fever

My 19 y/o female, indoor only cat developed an abscessed tooth. Noticed a sore on her cheek and took her to her vet the next morning. DX abscess. Also discovered she has hyperthyroidism, TSH was 11.4. Holding off treatment for that until after extraction due to going on vacay and won't be able to apply the topical pen BID until return. Her extraction is scheduled for tomorrow morning, one week after getting the DX, and have been on Clavamox BID for 7 days. However, now 6 days later, the wound has gotten much larger and is oozing. She is just shy of being 20 y/o. She weighs 5.3 lbs. Is it going to be safe to put her under for the extraction?

Sept. 17, 2018

Misty's Owner

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Meka

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domestic short hair

dog-age-icon

16 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Fair severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Fair severity

Has Symptoms

Swollen Face

My cat has a abses and i am just wondering if i should get her tooth taken out? Meka is 16 and still eatting but loosing alot of weight. Still active but the mouth does smell and the tooth bleeds every now and again

Sept. 6, 2018

Meka's Owner

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Bentley

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American

dog-age-icon

8 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

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2 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Abcess

I noticed Bentley (8yr old male) was drooling for 1 day and acted like he had pain on the left side of his mouth- had difficulty with wet food but ate crunchy treats. Took him to the vet - they said a tooth was missing/broken and they gave Clavamox 15 ml and pain med, and a treatment plan for extraction. He was lethargic for one day. It has been 3 doses so far of the clavamox and he is his perky self, not drooling, and hungry. I will continue to give clavamox, but will the infection come right back after antibiotic is finished. I need a couple of weeks to save up for extraction and cleaning.

Aug. 22, 2018

Bentley's Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1611 Recommendations

If the tooth is broken, the infection will come back, yes. The antibiotics may give you a couple of weeks to save up, but the procedure likely will need to be done.

Aug. 22, 2018

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Fenway

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domestic medium hair

dog-age-icon

10 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Swollen Gums
Swollen Gum

My cat has a swollen gum above his fang tooth. He flinches when I touch the tooth, but is fine when I touch the gum. Do you think it needs pulled or can I put something on the gum.

Aug. 21, 2018

Fenway's Owner

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recommendation-ribbon

3320 Recommendations

I cannot say for certain, but it seems that the tooth may need to be extracted if Fenway is exhibiting a pain response when the tooth is touched. You should visit a Veterinarian for an examination to determine whether the tooth can be saved or not. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Aug. 22, 2018

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Penny

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Cat

dog-age-icon

20 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Mouth Pain
Black Hard Liquid On Fur
Abcsess

My cat is 20 years old and has been pawing at the mouth and we think she has an abscess. She has tried cleaning herself but her hair is getting a black liquid on her that hardens and she can not clean it so she is pulling her hair out on her paws. She smells pretty bad and barely can eat food so we have to squish it and give her wet food which she tries to eat. I know it has something to do with her mouth and we tried to open to see it and we saw maybe a black abscess. What should we do?

Aug. 12, 2018

Penny's Owner

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recommendation-ribbon

3320 Recommendations

There are many different conditions which may affect an elderly cat; abscess, tumours, infections among other issues may make eating painful and at twenty years old we are left with few options. Without examining Penny I cannot say for certain what the cause is, but you should think about visiting your Veterinarian for an examination of the black mass and to determine if there is an appropriate treatment available. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Aug. 12, 2018

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Chance

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short hair

dog-age-icon

14 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Painful
Facial Swelling
Cant Eat Or Drink

Chance was fine last night. When I woke up this morning, I saw the right side of his face was swollen. Under his eye near the bridge of his nose. I lightly touched the area and he jerked his head back. It felt hard like a rock. He cant eat or drink on his own. So I fed him lickables it's a porridge like treat for cats. He ate that ok. He never been outside and he isnt around any other animals.He has always been a healthy cat. He also feels hot like, he may have a fever. I am going to take him to my vet as soon as I can get him in. Could this all be because of a tooth?

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Bodhi

dog-breed-icon

Siamese

dog-age-icon

15 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Missing Tooth

My cat Bohdi is 15. We found one of his fang teeth next to his cat tree, it is very green and decayed. I cannit afford a vet visit for another two weeks. Can I put hydrogen peroxide in the socket where the tooth came out just to hold off this getting horriby infecthe before I can get him to the vet? Thanks for your time!

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Ralph

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Short hair orange tabby

dog-age-icon

8 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Bad Breath
Clear Eye Drainage Bilaterally.
Gum Swelling Left Side Above Canine
No Drainage From Gums Noted

Hello, my almost to be 8yr old cat Ralph has been suggested to get a dental done this Friday morning. He has had eye drainage for a couple of weeks, I took him to the vet and they sent him home with an antiviral med. He wouldn't take the pill, no matter how I served it. Then he started eating less of his food for a couple of days. He normally has a very healthy appetite. He also started to appear more and more tired. So I took him back to the clinic and explained his s/s. I was even resorting to giving him tuna just to try to get him to eat. They gave a quick glance at his gums and noted some swelling to the left upper gums above that one canine tooth. Not a whole lot of redness, the gum color looks pretty similar to the other side of the mouth. No fever. They suggested a dental because he may have an abscess that needs taken care of. They sent us home with Meloxicam and clindamycin and scheduled the procedure for four days later. Since the couple of doses of meds, he's been eating, not hard food, but tuna... which is an improvement. He's been more alert and active. But the gum swelling is still present with clear eye drainage. He was diagnosed with a heart murmur in 2014 at age 2.5-3yrs old and had been a benazapril ever since every day. My question/concern is with the heart condition, is putting him under for a possible tooth abscess the safest? I'm really worried about something possibly going wrong?

dog-name-icon

Spook

dog-breed-icon

MaineCoon

dog-age-icon

1 Year

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Recently my 1 year old male cat has been treated for an oral abscess from a unknown puncture wound. It was drained, treated with a shot of antibiotics, and pain management pills. 10 days later from seeing the vet (7 days after treatment ended) he is excessively drooling. His behavior isn’t much different. But he has gotten more distant the further along in my pregnancy I’ve gotten. I’m due in 2 weeks and he only wants my attention when its convienient for him now. Am I missing something?? Does he need to go back to the vet or is this normal to drool?

dog-name-icon

Callie

dog-breed-icon

Calico

dog-age-icon

12 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Pain In Mouth
Paws At Mouth
Moderate Drooling

My cat has a very loose canine tooth it is the abscessed she drools a lot in paws at her face. Her habits really haven't changed she still eat and seems to work more cuddle time. I'm a disabled vet in I do not have the money to take her to get an extraction done. Can someone please tell me how I can extracted tooth and how to take care of her and her pain. Thank you

Dental Abscess Average Cost

From 390 quotes ranging from $500 - $1,500

Average Cost

$900

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