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What is Discolored Teeth?

An oral disease that often manifests as discolored teeth is feline odontoclastic resorptive lesions (FORL). This is the feline version of a cavity in the tooth. It can be found in the lower premolars of the cat. Gingivitis is another common condition that turns teeth from white to a darker color. Inflamed gums are another indicator of gingivitis. Indoor cats are at greater risk of developing discolored teeth than outdoor cats, since chewing bones can help clean the teeth and mouth.

Feline dental issues should never be ignored, as bacterial infections are commonly found in dental complications. A bacterial infection in a tooth may spread throughout the body and damage organs.

In cats, healthy teeth are generally white. Any variation in color indicates issues in oral health or tooth damage. Severe dental diseases can also change the color of a cat’s teeth. A very large percent of cats suffer from a degree of dental issues or disease. By the time that discoloration occurs, the cat may have been experiencing oral pain for some time. After a tooth has died, its color will darken significantly.

Discolored Teeth Average Cost

From 413 quotes ranging from $400 - $1,200

Average Cost

$850

Symptoms of Discolored Teeth in Cats

Whenever a cat’s teeth are not purely white, underlying oral health issues are a possibility. By inspecting your cat’s mouth on a regular basis you can spot symptoms as soon as they arise. Symptoms are as follows:

  • Visible cavities
  • Yellow or brown tartar (calculus)
  • Purple or pink shade to teeth
  • Cracked or broken teeth
  • Red gums
  • Recessed gums
  • Bleeding from mouth
  • Drooling
  • Bad breath
  • Difficulty eating
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Causes of Discolored Teeth in Cats

Many different factors can cause a cat’s teeth to discolor. Trauma to the face or mouth is the number one cause of tooth discoloration, and is often paired with more severe issues or injuries. Known causes and risk factors include: 

  • Brachycephalic (short-nosed) cat breeds
  • Tartar buildup (mainly in older cats)
  • Diet, especially exclusively wet food 
  • Abnormal tooth formation
  • Trauma or injury
  • Oral tumor
  • Pulpal hemorrhage
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Diagnosis of Discolored Teeth in Cats

All teeth should be checked as a part of a regular, annual vet visit. If symptoms have made an appointment necessary sooner, the veterinarian will complete an oral exam. You will be asked how long discoloration has been noticed in the cat’s teeth. If the cat has undergone trauma, a whole body assessment will be necessary to determine if any life threatening issues are present. 

X-rays will be required to check for any reduction in bone density of the teeth. A periodontal probe or “shepherd’s hook” may be used to evaluate the affected teeth. Pre-anesthetic blood work, including a complete blood count and a biochemical profile, will be needed to determine whether the cat is a suitable candidate for general anesthesia. This is even more of a concern when the cat has reached old age. The liver and kidneys will need to be evaluated before treatment is commenced.

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Treatment of Discolored Teeth in Cats

If you notice discolored teeth in your cat’s mouth, never wait to see if more symptoms arise. This can be harmful to your cat, and cause it to go through unnecessary pain. 

Scaling and Polishing 

A deep tooth cleaning can be done by your veterinarian to help remove the buildup of tartar. If the cat’s health qualifies for general anesthesia, then this treatment can be effective at restoring mouth health.

Extraction 

Teeth that are completely dead or rotten need to be removed from the mouth to prevent infection. Tooth pulling is a quick procedure. Many cats have no difficulty eating after having teeth pulled, even if the number of removed teeth is great.

Root Canal 

This option may be chosen if the veterinarian is highly skilled and there having the tooth remain in the mouth will benefit the cat. 

Crown 

This treatment can allow the cat to have some tooth function back by inserting a cover over the remainder of chipped or broken teeth. Dentinal tubules are sealed prior to the installation of a crown.

Antibiotics 

If any infection is present in the mouth, antibiotics will be needed to rid the body of harmful bacteria. Prescriptions generally last from two to four weeks. 

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Recovery of Discolored Teeth in Cats

Cats respond very well when mouth pain that leads to tooth discoloration is relieved. You may notice a behavioral change for the better. The quality of life can be greatly improved for the cat after successful treatment. Diet should be adjusted to include crunchy items to help save the other teeth. Often a toothache will follow many dental treatments, but prognosis is generally good, unless the cat is suffering from substantial trauma affecting multiple parts of the body.

Regular dental inspection should be a part of your cat’s annual vet visit. You can also regularly monitor your cat’s mouth for any variation in tooth color. It is a good idea to invest in a toothbrush and toothpaste for your cat. Most cat toothpaste contains enzymes that help control plaque buildup. It is best to start brushing gently without toothpaste. Eventually, when the cat is comfortable with the feeling of a brushing, toothpaste can be added. Brushing the teeth once a week is often all that is needed to maintain oral health.

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Discolored Teeth Average Cost

From 413 quotes ranging from $400 - $1,200

Average Cost

$850

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Discolored Teeth Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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Ask a Vet

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Calico

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Four Months

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Black Tooth At Gum

I just saw my kittens tooth And it was black/purple at the root. It is a canine tooth in the front. I’m hoping she’s losing her baby tooth but I don’t quite know.

July 18, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. If the tooth is black or purple at the root, that probably means that the tooth is dead. If it is a baby tooth, it may fall out and the adult tooth may come in normally, but if it is an adult tooth, there may be a problem with the tooth. Since I cannot see her or her teeth, it would be best to have her seen by a veterinarian, as they can examine her and see what might be going on. They will be able to let you know if what is happening is okay, or if she needs treatment for it. I hope that all goes well for her.

July 18, 2020

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buddy

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Unsure

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10 Years

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Mild severity

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1 found helpful

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Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Unsure Footing

my 10-11 year old cat has black upper center teeth fangs are white but center uppers are really darkly stained he has slowed his crunchie food in the last week wet food at night seems okay to her guess I should take her in? can I give her baby asprin crushed in she is in pain but can't tell me just a bit of asprin might make her more comfortable till I can get her into the vets?

May 11, 2018

buddy's Owner

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3320 Recommendations

Black teeth may be due to trauma to the mouth, resorption of calcium from the teeth among other causes; you should visit your Veterinarian as soon as possible for an examination and to determine the specific cause for the discoloured teeth. I would advise against aspirin as it thins the blood and may be an issue if there is some bleeding around the teeth. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

May 11, 2018

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Crystal

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Siamese

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6 Years

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Mild severity

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1 found helpful

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Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Discomfort
Tooth Ache

My boyfriends cat has a loose tooth we thought was a snaggletooth until today when we checked her teeth like always. Unfortunately we can't afford to go to the vet. We're a little worried because she seems to have some orange buildup at the top. It looks like it wants to fall out but it's having trouble. What can we do to help her? She's been like this for a few months. I only started checking because she had trouble eating and I checked her mouth only to find out her teeth are all little. Shes a Siamese cat btw!

Jan. 21, 2018

Crystal's Owner

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3320 Recommendations

Without examining Crystal I cannot give an indication to the best way to proceed with this tooth, I would recommend you find a charity clinic to look at the tooth and to determine if it can be coaxed out or requires a dental extraction under general anaesthesia. I understand that finances can be tight but sometimes there are no shortcuts. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Jan. 22, 2018

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Zoey

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dsh

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5 Years

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Serious severity

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1 found helpful

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Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Two upper long teeth are both bad. One is halfway black and the other one is pink in the middle like it's been bleeding. She won't eat or drink water it hurts so much.

Oct. 26, 2017

Zoey's Owner

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3320 Recommendations

It sounds like pulpitis which is commonly caused by trauma; you should visit your Veterinarian to examine the teeth to confirm and to determine whether it is reversible pulpitis or not. There is no at home treatment, just feed wet food until you visit your Veterinarian. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Oct. 26, 2017

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foodie

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Russian Blue

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3 Years

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Mild severity

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Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Mild Gingavitis

what colour should the molars on a cat be? my 3 1/2 yr old cat has a very light yellow colour on his back teeth. is this normal? i have been brushing his teeth for 1 month now. how long will it take to get them white like his fangs and front and sides?

Oct. 15, 2017

foodie's Owner

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3320 Recommendations

In theory all teeth should be white, in practice this can vary due to enamel, discolouration due to disease, malnutrition among other disorders. It is possible that the molars are covered with plaque (tartar) which may conform to the shape of the teeth but is not the crown of the tooth; it would be best to check in with your Veterinarian as a cleaning may be required. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Oct. 15, 2017

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Yuuki

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domestic short hair

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6 Years

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Moderate severity

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Lack Of Appetite
Slow Eating
Red Gums
Gingivitis
Brown/Yellow Teeth
Slight Smelly Breath

I have a 6 year old cat that recently started to not eat much. I looked in his mouth and realized that one of his fangs is a brownish/yellow color. And his back teeth are a bit gray, as well as his gum line is red in the back. I think he may have gingivitis but my mother is worried that he may need his teeth removed. Do you think he has gingivitis or some sort of gum disease? Do you think I can buy something over the counter that can help him? He doesn’t seem to be in pain but he has started to eat is smaller portions throughout the day. Please help

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Azure

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Snowshoe Siamese

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3 Years

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Moderate severity

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Gingavitis

My sister rescued a Snowshoe Siamese last year. She’s never checked her teeth because she never thought to. I worked for a vet clinic for a while and witnessed many dentals and extractions. My sister mentioned her cat not eating much so I checked her teeth and saw inflammed pink gums, no build up of tartar, but one black spot on multiple teeth. She most likely has some form of Gingavitis I’m guessing based on every description I’ve researched,and I’m heart broken for this kitty. She was very reluctant when it came to me touching her mouth, so I didn’t get to see past her very front teeth. Would it be easier on the cat to pull all of her teeth, rather than crowning them if they are broken and there is potential to save them? We will be taking her to the vet ASAP, I’m just worried about all of the expenses with the blood work and extractions because I know this is pretty severe

Discolored Teeth Average Cost

From 413 quotes ranging from $400 - $1,200

Average Cost

$850