Cats can be very private with their bodies, and it is their first instinct to hide ailments. Sometimes, they might have issues with their teeth that you aren't even aware of. Here are four signs that your cat might have a toothache and might need to have a teeth cleaning or dental work done.
1. Not Eating Hard Food
If your cat has become an increasingly picky eater over time, there is a chance they have dental pain and haven't just decided they don't like dry food. Eating dry food might irritate their teeth and gums, so your cat's solution is to switch to primarily eating wet food. This can be a good indicator to you that your cat has increased sensitivity caused by a toothache, tartar buildup, or gum problems.
2. Sensitivity When Touching Your Cat's Face
If your cat hisses or cries when you go to pet their face, they might be reacting to pain. If you have a temperamental or anxious cat to begin with, it might be hard to assess the problem on your own. If your cat welcomes petting elsewhere and this reaction is a new development around their mouth and cheeks, it is a good idea to have your cat looked at in the vet's office. If your cat has tooth or gum problems that are sensitive to the touch, this needs to be diagnosed.
3. Bad Breath
If your cat's breath has taken on an odor, something that smells like rotting food or fish, this most likely isn't from leftover food or bad hygiene. This might actually be stemming from a cavity or rotten teeth. Tooth decay most likely is in the back of their mouth where you might have trouble accessing, but additional signs you can see might be swollen gums or drooling. Make an appointment with your vet to see if your cat needs to have a teeth cleaning or more extensive work.
4. Bad Grooming
If you notice that your cat isn't doing as good of a job self cleaning as they once were, they might have dental pain that is causing pain. Telltale signs might be built-up dander, dirty paws, or increased scratching instead of cleaning. If you can get your cat into the vet to assess, they can diagnose if your cat has a tooth problem and recommend work or identify if another ailment might be the issue.
Many times veterinarians can do dental work in-house, but if dental problems might be extensive or your vet doesn't have the necessary equipment, they might refer you to a cat dentist. The process most likely will involve putting your cat under and performing tooth extractions that will ultimately get your cat back to being healthy and happy.