A dental abscess is a localised collection of pus, (a foul smelling thick white/yellow liquid that is primarily made up of dead white blood cells and bacteria) located within the tooth or surrounding tissues. Dental abscesses can occur for a number of reasons.
Bacteria from a dental cavity descending into the inner part of the tooth and gum, resulting in the body mounting an immune response and walling off the affected area.
Trauma such as a broken tooth. Trauma can occur as a result of an accident (hit by a car), or biting down on something hard.
FORL lesions - Also known as resorptive lesions, feline resorptive lesions, neck lesion, cavities, cervical line lesions and invasive resorptions, these painful lesions are one of the most common dental problems in cats. Lesions usually begin under the gingival margin and are caused by odontoclasts which are cells who's role is to absorb the bone and roots of deciduous (baby) teeth. In the case of FORL, these cells reabsorb the adult teeth. Lesions typically occur under the gum line, making early identification difficult. Premolars are most often affected. Your cat will display extreme sensitivity if these lesions are touched.
There are three types of dental abscess:
- Gingival abscess - An abscess of the gum tissue.
- Periodontal abscess - An abscess of the gum.
- Periapical abscess - An abscess of the dental pulp.
What are the symptoms of dental abscess in cats?
- Facial swelling.
- Draining wound and/or bleeding from the nose or face (below the eye, around the cheeks etc).
- Loose tooth.
- Pawing at the mouth.
- Loss of appetite and possible weight loss.
- Small, round bump in the mouth (on the gums), this is generally paler in colour due to the presence of pus.
How is a dental abscess diagnosed?
Your veterinarian will perform a physical examination of your cat, carefully paying attention to the mouth and face. Most dental abscesses can be diagnosed just by examining your cat, however, in some cases, your veterinarian may need to perform an x-ray.
How is a dental abscess treated?
Your cat will need to be sedated and the abscess lanced and cleaned out. He will be put on a course of antibiotics.
Most cases will require that the affected tooth be extracted at the time of treatment.
You will be required to give your cat antibiotics for 7-10 days.
Your cat may also be sent home with pain medication to manage any discomfort.
Offer your cat soft food until he is fully healed.
Preventing dental abscesses:
Proper dental hygiene is extremely important not only in preventing dental abscesses but many other dental problems such as gingivitis and periodontal disease.
Regularly clean your cat's teeth with a cat toothbrush and cat toothpaste. Do not use human toothpaste on your cat.
Include in his diet raw chicken necks or legs chopped up cuts of cheap beef, these foods help to clean the teeth.
Speak to your veterinarian about prescription "oral care" biscuits.
Regularly check your cat's mouth for signs of tartar or dental problems.