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What is Teeth Plaque Allergy?

Occurring on cat’s teeth, like human teeth, dental plaque is a sticky substance that can form on the teeth and between the teeth. Plaque can also occur under the gum line. With regular veterinary visits, plaque can be removed to help prevent dental issues. However, even with regular visits to your veterinarian, plaque will still form on the teeth, and for some cats, can become a hindrance. Cat owners can have a difficult time seeing this clear film, especially in the crevices of the molars. Cats with an allergy to plaque can develop symptoms that will alert the owner of something amiss.

Teeth plaque allergy in cats, also known as stomatitis, is a painful and debilitating condition due to an allergy of the plaque on the teeth. This inflammation of the cat’s gums and mouth can cause many ulcers to develop all throughout the mouth and tongue areas. This causes intense pain and irritation and causes the cat to not want to eat. 

This allergy to plaque can occur at any age and can be mild, moderate, or severe. Often, in severe cases, the cat’s pharynx and throat are affected, making it very painful and difficult for the cat to swallow.

Teeth plaque normally develops on the teeth of humans as well as animals, including cats. Teeth plaque, or dental plaque, allergy in cats occurs when cats of any age have an allergic reaction to this clear, sticky film that develops on and between the teeth and gums.

Symptoms of Teeth Plaque Allergy in Cats

Stomatitis in cats can cause a lot of pain as well as other symptoms. Symptoms of a plaque allergy in cats include: 

  • Irritability
  • Aggressio
  • Mouth ulcers
  • Halitosis
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Difficulty eating
  • Reclusiveness
  • Drooling
  • Bleeding and swollen gums
  • Dysphasia
  • Ptyalism


Plaque allergy in cats is known by other types of diagnoses. Other terms that describe this painful condition are:

  • Lymphocytic-plasmacytic stomatitis
  • Feline chronic gingivostomatitis
  • Oral inflammatory disease
  • Immune-mediated refractory stomatitis

Causes of Teeth Plaque Allergy in Cats

Causes of plaque allergy in cats begin with the development of plaque in and around the teeth and gums. Specific causes of this allergy are as follows:

  • A sensitive immune system reacting harshly to dental plaque
  • Immune system triggering an over reactive response
  • Immune system targeting plaque in causing inflammation of the tissues in the mouth
  • Breed predisposition
  • Feline immunodeficiency virus
  • Feline leukemia
  • Gum disease
  • Gingivitis

Diagnosis of Teeth Plaque Allergy in Cats

If you are seeing symptoms of a plaque allergy in your cat, make an appointment with your veterinarian. Your veterinarian will carefully observe your cat’s mouth, namely his gums, teeth, the inside of his cheeks, and throat. After carefully observing his mouth, your veterinarian may choose to do some tests to rule out any other underlying health conditions. The testing may include blood work, urinalysis, and biochemistry profile.

Your veterinarian will ask you questions about your cat’s symptoms, such as when they began and the severity. Typically, this condition starts with gingivitis that increases over time. The veterinary caregiver  will also compare your feline’s weight to any past visits’ weight recordings to see if he has lost any. He will also ask you about eating habits of your pet, as he will want to know if your cat is trying to eat but is having difficulty, and if you are feeding him wet or dry food.

Your veterinarian may choose to go ahead and give your cat fluid if he seems to be dehydrated due to lack of eating and drinking. Meanwhile, he will begin to assess his condition even closer in order to make a diagnosis. Although you may not see any plaque or tartar on the teeth, the veterinarian will make key observations. The gum line may be bright red, especially at the meeting point of the tooth and gum. Usually there's a section of inflammation around the entire tooth, and this may be present within and around the molars in the back of the mouth.

Treatment of Teeth Plaque Allergy in Cats

Many cases of stomatitis in felines are diagnosed once the cat is severely affected. If the cat has been diagnosed early, treatment options may differ from those used in later diagnoses. Treatment methods consist of the following:

Extraction of the Teeth

If your cat is suffering from a severe case of stomatitis, the only option that the veterinarian may recommend to be effective is a complete extraction of your cat’s teeth. While seemingly aggressive, and while being a form of surgery, once the teeth are extracted and your cat heals from the procedure, he will be free of the debilitating pain that this disease causes. This is the one method that will work for this diagnosis.

Dental Treatment

If your cat has a mild to moderate case of plaque allergy, your veterinarian may recommend a thorough dental cleaning. This cleaning will need to be accomplished under general anesthesia and may require an overnight stay. There are no absolute guarantees that this treatment will work, as the dental plaque and the allergy may recur; however, your veterinarian may consider this option before a full extraction of the teeth.

Recovery of Teeth Plaque Allergy in Cats

Once your cat has been treated for this allergy, your veterinarian will explain to you what you need to do from this point forward. Depending on the method of treatment, it will be important to listen to your veterinarian’s instructions as your cat recovers from the general anesthesia from the teeth cleaning or the extraction. 

If your cat had his teeth extracted, once he heals from the surgery he will have a much better quality of life and well-being as he will be rid of the pain of the inflammation and infection. Your veterinarian will give you advice on what to feed your cat now that he has no teeth; cats that have undergone the surgery do adapt quite well to moistened canned food.

If your cat had a teeth cleaning, it will be very important to watch for any new symptoms of the plaque allergy. It will also be important to have follow-up cleanings in order to keep this allergy under control.

Teeth Plaque Allergy Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Maine Coon
3 Years
Fair condition
0 found helpful
Fair condition

Has Symptoms

Red gums

My vet is saying my cat may be allergic to her teeth. She has been to the vets several times for teeth/mouth problems. First visit was for a broken front tooth, second visit was for bad breath and shaking her head a lot. Put her on antibiotics and removed 2 teeth. Several weeks later shaking head again and bad breath. More antibiotics. 2 weeks later she thinks she may need all of her teeth removed. Should I get a second opinion or does that sound reasonable?

Dr. Michele King, DVM
Dr. Michele King, DVM
1611 Recommendations
Thank you for your email. Some cats are actually allergic to the plaque on their teeth, and while some can be controlled with regular teeth cleanings, some do better having the teeth removed. Because it is such a drastic step to take, it might be a good idea to have a 2nd opinion, as I cannot examine or see May. It is a procedure that does occasionally need to be done, but it would be worthwhile seeing if another veterinarian agrees before progressing. If that is the route that you decide to go, she should be much more comfortable once her mouth has healed. I hope that May does well.

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1 year 4 months
Mild condition
0 found helpful
Mild condition

I recently went to the vet and they told me they would have to remove my cat's teeth due to the allergy of plaque I was wondering what would happen if my cat's teeth weren't extracted.

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
3320 Recommendations
In severe cases it is best to have affected teeth extracted to prevent occurrence, in milder cases teeth may be cleaned followed up with daily brushing to help prevent the buildup of plaque in the future. The condition is uncommon but has a high recurrence rate so prevention is key. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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