Without proper oral care, your cat can suffer various serious conditions that can affect their overall health such as gingivitis. Our Columbia vets share some information about gingivitis in cats, what signs to watch for and how it can be prevented.
The Detrimental Effects of Gingivitis on Cats
Gingivitis is inflammation of the gum or gingiva, which surrounds the teeth. The disease can range from moderate to severe, and in extreme cases, cats with gingivitis may have problems eating and grow very uncomfortable. To remedy the condition, a tooth cleaning under anesthesia would be required. 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.
The Signs of Gingivitis to Watch For 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
The Possible 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
How Gingivitis in Cats Can Be Diagnosed
Since cats are so adept at hiding their pain, they may not show any signs of discomfort even if they are in severe oral pain. Even cats who are eating normally and are active can have significant dental diseases. 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.
The Treatment Options For 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.
How You Can Help Maintain Your Cats 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 your cat that the toothbrush and toothpaste are safe
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 to get them used to the process
Choose a dental treat your cat enjoys and place it on its canine teeth. As they become accustomed to it, begin to place 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.
Start brushing your cat's teeth on a daily basis
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.