Gingivitis is a dental concern that can affect cats if they haven't been given ongoing proper dental care throughout their lives. Our Port Jefferson vets discuss gingivitis in cats, how it occurs and what the signs and causes of this disease are.
What is Gingivitis in Cats
Gingivitis is an inflammation of the gum or gingiva that surrounds the teeth, potentially resulting in structural damage and discomfort.
Gingivitis can affect cats to varying degrees and cause your cat to be uncomfortable and experience pain. To remedy the condition, a tooth cleaning under anesthesia would be required. Just like humans, plaque - a buildup of germs, debris, dead skin cells, mucus, and food - can accumulate on the teeth and contribute to this dental issue.
What Are The Common Symptoms of Gingivitis in Cats?
The most common signs of gingivitis in cats are:
- Plaque build-up on the surface of the teeth
- 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
What Are The Causes of Gingivitis in Cats?
The common causes of gingivitis in cats include:
- Soft Food
- FeLV (Feline Leukemia Virus)
- Crowded teeth
- Bad Dental Care
- Old age
- Autoimmune Diseases
How Is Gingivitis in Cats Diagnosed?
Cats are notorious for hiding their pain, which can make it difficult to identify health issues and have them promptly treated.
Bringing your cat in for their annual routine exam is essential to the detection of dental disease, as a vet is often able to identify signs of conditions while observing an animal and checking for symptoms listed above.
What is the Recommended Treatment for Gingivitis in Cats?
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.
If your cat is suffering from stomatitis then it will be likely that your vet will recommend the extraction of the affected teeth in order to make your cat comfortable again.
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.
How You Can Help Care For Your Cat's Teeth
Cat-specific toothbrushes and toothpaste are available for purchase at pet supply stores and can help avoid gingivitis. Brushing should be introduced gradually and consistently so that cats become accustomed to it.
Show Them The Toothpaste and Toothbrush
Leave snacks on the counter near the toothpaste and toothbrush so cats can associate something positive with them. You can also place a dab of toothpaste for them to lick off your finger so they get accustomed to it.
Start Touching Your Cat's Mouth Often
Choose a dental treat your cat enjoys and place it on its canine teeth. As they become accustomed to it, start placing it deeper and deeper into their mouth, on their teeth. This gets them used to you touching their mouth and makes it easier for you to introduce the toothpaste.
Begin to Brush Your Cat's Teeth
With your cat used to the toothbrush, toothpaste, and you touching their mouth, it should be easier to brush their teeth. Brush along the gum line for about 15 to 30 seconds, only on the outside of the teeth, and reward them with a treat afterward.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.