Like humans, cats can suffer from painful dental health conditions. Today, our Riverbank vets talk about gingivitis in cats, including how you can recognize it and how you can help prevent it.
Gingivitis & Cats
Gingivitis is when a cat's gums or gingiva (which surrounds the teeth) becomes inflamed. The disease can range from moderate to severe, and in extreme cases, cats with gingivitis (gum disease) can have problems eating and grow very uncomfortable. To treat this condition, your cat will need to have their teeth cleaned under anesthesia. 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 condition.
Signs Your Cat May Have Gingivitis
Common signs and symptoms of gingivitis in cats include:
- Plaque build-up on the surface of the teeth
- Bad breath
- Red or swollen gums, especially around the area of the inner cheek
- Difficulty eating or not eating at all
- Has trouble picking up toys or food
Causes of Cat Gingivitis
Here are some common causes of gingivitis in cats:
- Poor Dental Care
- Soft Food
- Old age
- Crowded teeth
- FeLV (Feline Leukemia Virus)
- Autoimmune Diseases
How Cats Are Diagnosed With Gingivitis
Because cats are skilled at masking their pain, they might not display 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 disease. Taking your cat to the vet annually for routine exams is essential when it comes to finding dental diseases, as a vet is often able to identify signs of conditions while examining an animal and checking for the symptoms listed above.
Treating Gingivitis in Cats
The treatments for gingivitis focus 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 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 your cat's gingivitis. 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.
Keeping Your Cat's Teeth Healthy
You can purchase cat-specific toothbrushes and toothpaste at pet supply stores which can help avoid gingivitis. You should introduce brushing gradually and consistently so your cat gets accustomed to it.
Get Your Cat Used To The Toothbrush & Toothpaste
Leave snacks on the counter near the toothpaste and toothbrush so your cat can associate something positive with them. You can also place a dab of toothpaste for them to lick off your finger so they get used to the taste.
Help Your Get Used To Their Mouth Being Touched
Choose a dental treat your cat enjoys and place it on their 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.
Brush Your Cats Teeth
With your cat used to the toothbrush, toothpaste, and you touching their mouth, you should have an easier time brushing 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 people or pets. Always consult with a vet before making medical decisions for your pet.