Proper oral care is important for your cat. If their teeth are not cleaned regularly your cat can develop gum diseases like gingivitis. Our Everhart Animal 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, they may not show any signs of discomfort even if they are in severe oral pain. Even cats who eat normally and are active can have severe dental disease. Bringing your cat in for their annual routine exam is critical for the detection of dental disease, as a vet is often able to identify signs of conditions while observing an animal and checking for the symptoms listed above.
Treatment for Cats with Gingivitis
Treatment for gingivitis focuses on removing built-up plaque and dental calculus as well as treating or removing diseased or destabilized teeth. To treat any inflamed dental disease, regular tooth cleanings and dental X-rays should be done under anesthesia.
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 on the counter near the toothpaste and toothbrush so cats can associate them with something positive. You can also give them a dab of toothpaste to lick off your finger so they get used to it.
Get your cat used to you touching their mouth
Put a treat for your cat's canine teeth that it likes. As they grow accustomed to it, begin placing it deeper and deeper into their mouths and on their teeth. This helps you introduce the toothpaste more easily because they get used to you touching their mouth.
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.