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Tooth Root Abscesses in Cats

Learn the cause and treatment of tooth root abscesses in cats.

A tooth root abscess is an infection that develops under the gum line, around the root of a tooth or teeth.

Cause of Tooth Root Abscesses in Cats

A tooth root abscess is caused by bacteria traveling from the mouth down to the root of the tooth. In cats, that's usually the result of a broken tooth or one that has a crack in it.

A tooth root abscess can also occur in a cat when there is severe gum disease (periodontitis, infection of the gums) present in the mouth.

The most common teeth to develop abscesses in cats are the canine teeth (both upper and lower) and the upper fourth premolars in the back of the mouth.

Signs of Tooth Root Abscesses in Cats

Some cats don't show many or any outward signs of a tooth root abscess because cats are prone to hiding pain and illness by nature. However, a watchful owner may notice some or all of the following signs:

  • Pawing at the mouth
  • Dropping food
  • Decreased appetite
  • Drooling
  • Swollen face
  • Pulling away from petting
  • Lack of interest in toys
  • Bad breath
  • Swollen and red gum over the affected tooth

Diagnosis of a Tooth Root Abscess in Cats

In some cases, a veterinarian may be able to determine there is an abscess by noticing a broken tooth, discharge, swelling, and puffy and red gum tissue.

Dental x-rays, taken while the cat is under general anesthesia, will reveal the abscess as well as any others that aren't showing the obvious visual signs.

Treatment of Tooth Root Abscesses in Cats

Tooth root abscesses are painful, even if the cat is not showing obvious signs of pain. They need to be treated right away. Often, the veterinarian will begin by giving antibiotics and pain relief medications.

An abscessed tooth can't be treated medically long-term, however. The tooth must either be extracted (removed), or a root canal needs to be performed. Your veterinarian will determine the best course of action for your cat's tooth. A referral to a veterinary dental specialist may be necessary for root canal work.

Prevention of Tooth Root Abscesses in Cats

While not all tooth root abscesses in cats can be prevented, the following steps can make them less likely:

  • Perform at-home dental care routinely
  • Have your veterinarian do a full oral exam every six to twelve months
  • Don't allow your cat to chew hard items

You May Also Like These Articles:

Common Dental Problems in Cats

Stomatitis in Cats

Home Dental Care for Cats

Halitosis: Bad Breath in Cats

Caring for Your Senior Feline

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