What is Discolored Teeth?

An oral disease that often manifests as bright red, discolored teeth is feline odontoclastic resorptive lesions (FORL). These lesions cause extreme pain and can be found on any tooth of the cat. 

A yellow, orange or brown build up of teeth indicates calculus, which occurs due to plaque films, formed from bacteria.

A dead tooth may be grey or black.

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 from a young age. 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.

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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
  • Wobbly teeth
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Causes of Discolored Teeth in Cats

Many different factors can cause a cat’s teeth to discolor. Periodontal disease and trauma to the face or mouth are the most common causes. Known causes and risk factors include: 

  • Brachycephalic (short-nosed) cat breeds
  • Tartar buildup
  • 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 on 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 and to evaluate the roots. 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 any buildup of tartar. This is an excellent way of restoring dental health and minimising gingivitis. Many cats need two or three cleans in their lifetime.

Extraction 

Teeth that are completely dead or rotten need to be removed from the mouth to prevent infection. Tooth pulling is a quick procedure. 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 having the tooth remain in the mouth will benefit the cat. This can be costly.

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. Not every vet offers this as an option and complications can occur.

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. It also helps to brush teeth daily when possible.

With prompt treatment, prognosis is good.

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 at home. 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 brushing, toothpaste can be added. Brushing the teeth several times 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

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domestic short hair

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Four Months

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Mild severity

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4 found helpful

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Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Orange Baby Teeth

My 4 month old kitten has some orange discoloration on some of the tips of his teeth. I know that he should start teething soon as his adult teeth will come in. He is a very picky eater and will mainly only eat wet food. He also doesn't seem to be in any pain and allows us to touch his teeth and gums. Does discoloration matter greatly if he will lose them soon? I don't want him to be in any pain, but also don't want to take him to the vet if there is nothing they can do since he will lose these teeth in a matter of time.

Oct. 22, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Linda S. MVB MRCVS

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4 Recommendations

Hi there! Orange or yellow build up is typically 'calculus' which forms due to an abundance of plaque/bacteria. While you're right that these teeth will be lost and the new teeth won't be initially affected, this does demonstrate we need to work on our oral hygiene. If not, it is likely the adult teeth will soon become affected too. Wet food can cake on teeth so, if possible, dry kibble should be given. Tooth brushing is important and should begin now to get your kitty used to it. You can even use some fish flavour cat toothpaste to make it an enjoyable experience! There are powders and gels that can be put in food and applied to gums if tooth brushing is a no go. While they don't work quite as well, they are better than nothing. If he's currently eating well and there is no gum redness of bleeding, pain is unlikely. Remember, some gum redness and bleeding can even be normal around this time as the kitten starts to get their adult teeth.

Oct. 22, 2020

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Calico

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Four Months

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Unknown severity

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5 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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5 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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Discolored Teeth Average Cost

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

Average Cost

$850

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