Proper oral care is important for your cat. If their teeth are not cleaned regularly your cat can develop gum diseases like gingivitis. Our Barton Heights Veterinary Hospital vets can provide information on gingivitis in cats, its signs, causes, and treatments.
What is gingivitis in cats?
Gingivitis is an inflammation of the gums (gingiva) that surround the teeth. Gingivitis can range from mild to severe, and in severe cases, cats with gingivitis may have difficulty eating and become very uncomfortable. A tooth cleaning under anesthesia would be required to treat the condition. Plaque, a buildup of germs, debris, dead skin cells, mucus, and food, can accumulate on the teeth and contribute to this dental issue, just as it does in humans.
Signs of Gingivitis in Cats
The common signs of gingivitis in cats are:
- Red or swollen gums, especially around the area of the inner cheek
- Bad breath
- Difficulty eating or not eating at all
- Difficulty picking up toys or food
- Plaque build-up on the surface of the teeth
Causes of Gingivitis in Cats
The common causes of gingivitis in cats include:
- Bad Dental Care
- Old age
- Autoimmune Diseases
- Soft Food
- FeLV (Feline Leukemia Virus)
- Crowded teeth
Diagnosis of Gingivitis in Cats
Because cats are so good at hiding their pain, even if they are in severe oral pain, they may not show any signs of discomfort. Even cats who eat normally and are active can have serious dental problems. Bringing your cat in for an annual routine exam is critical for detecting dental disease, as a vet can often identify signs of conditions while observing an animal and checking for the symptoms listed above.
Treatment for Cats with Gingivitis
Gingivitis treatment focuses on eliminating accumulated plaque and dental calculus, as well as treating or extracting destabilized and/or diseased teeth. To address any inflammatory dental disease, routine tooth cleanings and dental X-rays should be conducted under anesthetic.
For cats suffering from stomatitis to have a comfortable mouth, their teeth are frequently extracted by a veterinarian if it is called for.
The frequency of dental checkups will be determined by the degree of periodontal disease in your cat. If your adult cat's teeth are overcrowded, or if it has baby (deciduous) teeth, your veterinarian may recommend a tooth extraction. Your veterinarian will show you how to clean your cat's teeth, and you should schedule follow-up exams.
Maintaining Your Cat's Teeth
Gingivitis can be avoided by using cat-specific toothbrushes and toothpaste, which are available at pet supply stores. Brushing should be introduced gradually and consistently to cats in order for them to become accustomed to it.
Get your cat familiar with toothbrushes and toothpaste
Place snacks near the toothpaste and toothbrush on the counter so cats can associate them with something positive. You can also give them a dab of toothpaste to lick off your finger to get them used to it.
Get your cat used to you touching their mouth
Place a dental treat that your cat enjoys on its canine teeth. Start placing it deeper and deeper into their mouth, on their teeth, as they become accustomed to it. This accustoms them to you touching their mouth and makes it easier to introduce the toothpaste.
Brushing your cat's teeth should be easier now that they're used to the toothbrush, toothpaste, and you touching their mouth. Brush for about 15 to 30 seconds along the gum line, only on the outside of the teeth, and then reward them with a treat.