Just as humans become more prone to cavities and tooth decay as they age, so do cats. While cats of any age can develop dental problems, these issues become more likely as your cat enters older adulthood. Left unaddressed, tooth problems can not only be painful, but they can also lead to infections that spread into other tissues like the blood and the brain. So, it's essential to catch tooth problems early by watching out for these signs of painful teeth in cats.
Tilting the head while eating.
If your cat tends to tip his head to the side when chewing, this could be a sign of painful teeth. He might be avoiding chewing on the side of the mouth where the decayed teeth are. You may even notice that food falls out of the side of your cat's mouth as he tilts his head to chew.
Some cats just stop eating or start eating less when their teeth hurt. This can lead to slow weight loss. You may not even notice that your cat is eating less if he's been slowly decreasing his food intake over time as the tooth pain has gotten worse. There are a wide array of possible causes of weight loss in cats, from diabetes to cancer, but one of the first things your vet will look at when you bring weight loss to their attention is the teeth.
Changes in rubbing behavior.
Did your cat used to rub his head against your legs? If this behavior has ceased, it could be because it places too much pressure on his painful teeth and jaw. Your cat may also resist if you try to pet his head or face. Some cats even act aggressively, hissing or spitting if you touch this area, when previously they were open to this type of affection.
A smelly mouth.
Bad breath in cats usually means that the teeth or gums are infected with stinky bacteria. If you smell a bad odor when your cat opens his mouth, or if he leaves behind a stink on anything he licks or chews, this is a good reason to call your vet and have your cat's teeth checked out.
Usually, veterinarians can pull the affected teeth, put your cat on a soft diet, and the pain will subside. Your cat will be a lot happier and healthier once his painful teeth have been cared for.