An abscess is a collection of pus, usually caused by a bacterial infection. If left untreated it can lead to tooth loss and more serious health problems.
It's not always easy to spot a tooth abscess. Although they can be very painful, your pet might not show obvious signs of discomfort or distress.Look out for them being unwilling to eat their usual food, or only chewing on one side of the mouth.
If you think there might be a problem, look inside their mouth. If there's an abscess, you'll notice swelling and reddening of the gum around the affected tooth.
Average claim paid out for tooth abscess: £461
Worn or broken teeth
Your pet’s teeth can be damaged or worn down through day-to-day activities like chewing, but carrying hard pet toys, balls, bones, sticks, and pebbles can also cause damage.
Because of this, worn teeth and fractures are more common in dogs but cats can also break a tooth, typically in a fall or road traffic accident.
Choose soft toys and dental chews for your dog and try to limit unsupervised play with large stones and sticks outdoors.
Average claim paid out for tooth structure injury: £507
This condition only affects cats, but it's very common. After gingivitis, it’s the most common dental conditions for cats.
Around a third of all adult cats will have resorptive lesions at some time.
It can be extremely painful. The tooth structure in your cat’s mouth will decay and become weaker. When this happens the affected tooth is likely to break and expose sensitive nerves.
It isn’t always easy to spot in the early stages of the condition as the damage is happening inside the tooth.
It’s difficult to correct the damage and in most cases, the affected tooth will need to be removed by your vet.
Average claim paid out for feline resorptive lesion: £427
Does pet insurance cover dental treatment?
Most pet insurance policies will only cover dental accidents, which might include things like broken teeth and injuries to the mouth. A few pet insurance providers include dental illness in their most comprehensive policies.
Our Complete policy includes cover for dental illness and accidents as part of your £15,000 vet fee limit.
How can I keep my pet's teeth healthy?
Pet insurance doesn’t cover routine dental work so it’s important that owners take good care of their pet’s teeth and gums at home between vet check-ups.
Sarah's top three tips for avoiding common dental conditions are:
- Feed your pet a healthy diet
- Brush their teeth and give them regular dental care and check-ups
- Choose toys and chews that can combat dental disease
- Examine your pet's mouth and gums regularly to help you spot signs of disease.
you can do this as part of a regular tooth brushing routine.
Signs and symptoms of dental disease in pets
"From my own experience of working in veterinary practices, I've found that dental issues can often be missed, especially for pets with smaller mouths,” says Sarah. “It’s only when the situation gets very bad that owners start to notice changes in their pet’s behaviour.”
Make a quick oral check a part of your pet’s regular grooming routine so you’re more likely to spot problems early.
These are the eight main signs of dental disease to look out for in your cat or dog:
1. Discoloured teeth
Yellow or brown teeth in cats or dogs is a sign of plaque build-up. Cats and dogs can develop plaque on their teeth when saliva, food particles and bacteria come together.
If plaque’s left untreated it combines with minerals in the mouth to become hard tartar which looks like a yellow-brownish crust developing around the gums.
The build-up of tartar can lead to gingivitis, periodontal disease or even tooth abscesses.
2. Abnormal drooling or a runny nose
Your pet might drool if they can’t close their mouth or swallow without pain.
Infections from abscesses (under the gum line) can create a pus pocket and that infection can get into the sinuses and nasal cavities. If this happens, your pet may start sneezing or have a runny nose.
3. Loose, missing or broken teeth
If your pet starts whining when they’re eating or when someone touches their mouth, it could be dental disease.
4. Weight loss
If you notice your pet isn't showing its normal interest in food, it could be down to a dental issue.
They're most likely finding it difficult or uncomfortable chewing their food. If it's an ongoing issue, you might even notice that they've lost weight.
5. Reluctance to chew food
If your pet isn't eating as normal, there can be lots of causes, but don’t rule out dental disease. Check their mouth and see a vet to find the cause before your pet begins to lose weight.
6. Bad breath (halitosis)
Your cat or dog shouldn’t have really bad breath. If they do, it's normally a sign of gum disease or another oral condition that needs investigating by your vet.
The build-up of odour-producing bacteria is often the cause of bad breath. Having your pet’s teeth scaled and polished will help improve bad smells as it will remove the build-up of plaque and tartar that causes the problem.
7. Red gums
Look out for a swollen jaw and heat or redness. This might mean an infection in the gums around the tooth root. Any inflammation along the gum line where the gum meets the tooth is a sign of gingivitis.