Jump to section

What is Tooth Decay?

With regular cleaning and proper diet and nutrition, the buildup of these cells can be mitigated and even prevented, helping to minimize the potential for this painful disease of the mouth in your cat.

Tooth decay in cats can be a painful condition for your pet feline. Tooth decay from feline tooth resorption is a condition in which cellular organisms attach to the teeth. These organisms eat away at the enamel and, eventually, cause your cat’s teeth to disintegrate over time. These cells, called odontoclasts, tend to attach to crevices and cracks in the teeth.

Tooth Decay Average Cost

From 525 quotes ranging from $200 - $2,000

Average Cost

$800

Symptoms of Tooth Decay in Cats

While the most obvious symptoms of tooth decay in your cat will be visible upon inspection of their teeth and mouth, this isn’t always noticeable on a daily basis. There are, however, additional symptoms you can watch for.

  • Bad breath
  • Decreased desire to groom (typically seen in poor coat condition)
  • Sensitivity to hard foods (seen in remnant pieces of hard cat food left near bowl)
  • Infection in mouth or gums
  • Weight loss
  • Loss of appetite
  • Drooling
arrow-up-icon

Top

Causes of Tooth Decay in Cats

While the underlying cause of tooth decay is odontoclasts which attach to the surface of the teeth, the ability of these cells to attach in the first place has many underlying causes. A few of these may include:

  • Cracked or broken teeth
  • Worn teeth
  • Increased presence of plaque
  • Poor oral health maintenance
  • Certain mineral imbalances
arrow-up-icon

Top

Diagnosis of Tooth Decay in Cats

Any diagnosis of tooth decay in your cat will involve a veterinarian conducting a thorough exam of your cat’s mouth. During this time the vet may use his finger or a probe or other simple object to press gently on the suspicious teeth. Your vet will also ask for a thorough history of your cat’s eating and drinking habits, as well as any medical records relating to previous exams. Previous oral exam records will be especially helpful in establish the rate of decay, if any is found.

While this simple exam will confirm the presence of decay, or identify other tooth related conditions, it won’t allow the veterinarian to determine the severity of tooth decay in your cat. In order to properly diagnose the severity of the condition and decide on an appropriate mode of treatment, your vet may need to conduct x-rays of your cat’s mouth. This will require your cat be placed under anesthesia.

While your cat is under anesthesia for the x-rays, or as part of an independent exam, your veterinarian will conduct a more thorough oral exam of your cat’s teeth. Your vet may use special metal dental instruments to pull back or move the gums gently to determine how deeply the teeth are affected. This will also allow your vet to identify any pockets of infection or abscess that are secondary to the tooth decay.

arrow-up-icon

Top

Treatment of Tooth Decay in Cats

The type of treatment your vet prescribes for tooth decay in your cat will depend on the severity and underlying cause of the tooth decay. 

Treatment of Mild Tooth Decay

For mild tooth decay, your veterinarian may advise a thorough cleaning of your cat’s teeth. This will occur in a veterinarian’s office and will typically involve anesthesia. Placing your cat under anesthesia for treatment does have some risks, but it will ensure a thorough removal of harmful cells and bacteria and allow the vet to treat deep into the gum line.

Treatment of Severe Tooth Decay

For treatment of severe tooth decay, your veterinarian will likely need to perform oral surgery on your cat. During the surgery, your vet will remove the decaying teeth. Often times this is done when teeth have become severely damaged and run the risk of attracting additional growths of bacteria which could cause infections of the mouth. For surgery, your cat will also have to be placed under anesthesia. Your vet will also prescribe antibiotics to help fight infection after surgery, and potentially painkillers to help make your cat comfortable. Typically, absorbable stitches are used to close up the area of incision but in some cases, you may need to follow up to have stitches removed.

arrow-up-icon

Top

Recovery of Tooth Decay in Cats

With proper care and follow up preventative procedures, cats with tooth decay will lead long, normal lives. Regular cleanings are a great way to both stop current decay and prevent any additional occurrences. You may also want to speak with your vet regarding special food, treats or other dental products that may promote oral health.

If your cat has had teeth removed as a result of tooth decay, the prognosis remains good. Cats can live full and regular lives even if missing several teeth. In the case of a cat having a large number of teeth removed, you may have to alter your cat’s diet to provide foods that are easier to chew.

arrow-up-icon

Top

*Wag! may collect a share of sales or other compensation from the links on this page. Items are sold by the retailer, not Wag!.

Tooth Decay Average Cost

From 525 quotes ranging from $200 - $2,000

Average Cost

$800

arrow-up-icon

Top

Tooth Decay Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

question-icon-cta

Ask a Vet

dog-name-icon

Grinch

dog-breed-icon

domestic short hair

dog-age-icon

4 Years

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

Fair severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

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

Fair severity

Has Symptoms

Bad Breath
Sensitivity

I noticed bad breath in my cat Grinch a couple months ago but he's always been sensitive when it comes to touching the side of his face. He yawned today and I only got a glimpse of his back teeth, but it was clear his teeth were unhealthy. They were a foggy white and I spotted some blue hues in there as well. I looked it up and I'm pretty sure it's tooth rot. Grinch eats a full bowl of dry food everyday and drinks a full bowl of water, other than sensitivity he functions normally. Could u please recommend what I do? I don't have money for a $800 vet bill. Around how much would a teeth cleaning be? Can I do it myself?

Aug. 23, 2018

Grinch's Owner

answer-icon

Dr. Michele K. DVM

recommendation-ribbon

1611 Recommendations

You can't clean his teeth yourself, no. Dental cleaning in cats requires anesthetic, and specialized equipment. If Grinch has dental disease, you trying to clean his teeth would most likely be quite painful. I'm not sure if you would end up with an $800 bill, but it would be best to start with an appointment with a veterinarian, as they can look at his mouth, let you know more what might be going on, and give you an idea as to treatment and cost.

Aug. 23, 2018

Was this experience helpful?

dog-name-icon

Daisy

dog-breed-icon

long hair

dog-age-icon

11 Years

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

Fair severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

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

Fair severity

Has Symptoms

Clicking Noise

I recently started hearing a clicking noise when my cat is eating. I have also heard it when she cleans herself. I took her to the vet and he looked in her mouth and said everything looked good and I should just watch her. I’m still worried and want to make sure this the correct course of action since she never used to do this before.

Aug. 15, 2018

Daisy's Owner

answer-icon

recommendation-ribbon

3320 Recommendations

Without examining Daisy it is difficult to determine what the cause of the clicking noise is; if your Veterinarian has been unable to determine a cause you should keep a close eye on her and monitor for any other symptoms. If the noise continues or she start exhibiting pain it may be worth getting an x-ray done of the mouth and temporomandibular joint to look for any abnormalities. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Aug. 15, 2018

Was this experience helpful?

dog-name-icon

Sailor Mewn

dog-breed-icon

Siberian

dog-age-icon

5 Years

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

Mild severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

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

Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Bad Breath
Hard Growth On Back Teeth
Discoloured Teeth

My cat's back teeth on the top right side seem to have hard, brown growths on them. Her breath has been pretty bad for a while and dental chews aren't helping. She is eating and drinking normally and there is no sign of bleeding or infection. She doesn't seem to be in any pain. Her back teeth on both sides are very discoloured.

Aug. 14, 2018

Sailor Mewn's Owner

answer-icon

recommendation-ribbon

3320 Recommendations

It sounds like it is the start of a build up of plaque on the teeth, if chews and other products are not helping it may be a case that a scale and polish may be needed to ensure the mouth stays healthy. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Aug. 14, 2018

Was this experience helpful?

dog-name-icon

Mozart

dog-breed-icon

Shorthair

dog-age-icon

8 Years

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

Serious severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

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

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Broken Tooth
Bad Breath
Sore Teeth
Yellow Teeth

I adopted a lovely older TNR male cat (10 months ago) who was has had a rough life. His teeth are a mess. From what I can see he is missing a lot, one is broken and the color is a dark yellow throughout his mouth. The vet quoted me a minimum of $1500 to fix his teeth. I have been saving and should be able to take him in late September. He prefers wet food and eats well twice a day. He plays and uses the box normally. I am just worried about him, since I haven't been able to take him in sooner. Have I put him in any long term danger? Once his teeth are removed will his gums and remaining teeth be ok?

Aug. 12, 2018

Mozart's Owner

answer-icon

recommendation-ribbon

3320 Recommendations

You should think about visiting a low cost veterinary clinic (they’re all over the US and the world) which are able to offer veterinary services at a reasonable price; the clinic linked below is in Virginia but is an example where a full dental with extractions costs $260. You should not delay treatment if possible, but it may occur due to financial constraints; but I cannot say whether it would have an effect on overall health or not. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM www.helpinghandsvetva.com/procedures-pricing/dental/

Aug. 13, 2018

Was this experience helpful?

dog-name-icon

Elvis

dog-breed-icon

domestic short hair

dog-age-icon

4 Years

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

Mild severity

thumbs-up-icon

1 found helpful

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

Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Tooth Decay

My vet says that my cat needs to have his teeth remove because his are severely decayed, but its going to cost over $1,000 for the removal. Is there a cheaper way to get my cat's teeth removed but still keep my cat from getting worse?

June 20, 2018

Elvis' Owner

answer-icon

recommendation-ribbon

3320 Recommendations

Some charity clinics and low cost service providers will do fixed price dental work like the one in the link below; however you need to shop around your area for a good price. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM www.helpinghandsvetva.com/procedures-pricing/dental/ ($260 full dental including extractions etc…)

June 21, 2018

Was this experience helpful?

dog-name-icon

Sooty

dog-breed-icon

Black short haired

dog-age-icon

18 Years

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

Serious severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

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

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Bad Breath Drooling Tongue Out

Hi i have a male tom xat he a nearly 18 and noticed more last couple of weeks his tongue is out a lot i vhecked his mouth today n his yeeth are black at top front n his breath is absolutely horrible he s always been a skinny cat no matter how much he eats. What do i do i am worried with his age

dog-name-icon

Bobo

dog-breed-icon

moggie

dog-age-icon

2 Years

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

Serious severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

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

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Swollen Gums
Tooth Decay
Tooth Ache
Teeth Falling

Hi my cats 2 years old. We just noticed he lost most of his front small teeth and seems to be in pain as his gums seem swollen. We will be taking him to the vet to have this urgently checked out, however we are stuck in this corona pandemic. What could it be and do you think his life is at risk?

dog-name-icon

Prim

dog-breed-icon

American short hair mix

dog-age-icon

4 Years

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

Serious severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

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

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Drooling
Bad Breath
Teeth Falling Out

I was walking around my living room one day and stepped on something. I picked it up and saw that it was a tooth. I only have one cat prom who is about 4 or 5 and i checked her mouth and sure enough she lost her back most top left molar. I looked at the other teeth and i don’t think they look good. We don’t have a lot of money so what do i do to help her. She doesn’t seem to be in pain, and she eats well, but she has bad breath and drools. And like by bad breath i mean really really bad like it makes me sick smelling it. She can’t clean herself in the same room as me because it makes me gag.

dog-name-icon

Lovely

dog-breed-icon

short hair

dog-age-icon

7 Years

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

Serious severity

thumbs-up-icon

1 found helpful

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

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Poor Appetite, Drooling, Bad Breath

My cat has severe tooth decay. I got his teeth cleaned by a vet that I went to for all my cats and they gave me him back with blood all over him and a broken jaw. I always tried to bush his teeth after the surgery but he was in so much pain and now his teeth are bad again. i can’t afford to take him to the vet and i have no idea what to do.

dog-name-icon

Sedona

dog-breed-icon

tabby

dog-age-icon

7 Years

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

Moderate severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

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

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Weight Loss
Weight Loss,
Weight Loss, Gi Issues
Weight Loss, Gi Issues, Finicky Eat

Our rescue cat Sedona had severe tooth decay at age 5, many of his teeth were removed surgically. Post surgery he was given antibiotics for loose stool, but has had GI issues ever since the surgery and keeps losing weight. We have done blood tests, ultrasounds and still have no answers. Could problem teeth, still be causing his weight loss?

Tooth Decay Average Cost

From 525 quotes ranging from $200 - $2,000

Average Cost

$800

How can we help your pet?