What is gingivitis in cats?
Gingivitis is inflammation of the gingiva or gums that surround the teeth. This disease may be mild or severe. In extreme cases, cats suffering from gingivitis may experience problems eating and become very uncomfortable.
To treat the condition, a tooth cleaning under anesthesia is needed. Similar to people, plaque - an accumulation of dead skin cells, food, mucus, germs and debris - can build up on the teeth and contribute to this dental disease.
Signs of Gingivitis in Cats
Common signs of gingivitis in cats include:
- Plaque buildup on tooth surfaces
- Difficulty picking up toys or food
- Difficulty eating or not eating at all
- Bad breath
- Red or swollen gums, especially around the inner cheek area
Causes of Gingivitis in Cats
- Soft food
- Crowded teeth
- Bad dental care
- Autoimmune diseases
- FeLV (Feline Leukemia Virus)
- Old age
Diagnosis of Gingivitis in Cats
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.
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
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.
Get your cat familiar with toothbrushes and toothpaste
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.
Get your cat used to you touching their mouth
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.
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.