Dental problems can be extremely painful for cats, and as many as 85% of cats over the age of 3 years old have some form of dental disease. Our Milledgeville vets share signs and causes, along with information on how gingivitis is diagnosed and how it can be treated.
What is gingivitis in 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. 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.
Signs of Gingivitis in Cats
Common signs of gingivitis in cats are:
- Difficulty eating or not eating at all
- Difficulty picking up toys or food
- Bad breath
- Red or swollen gums, especially around the area of the inner cheek
- Plaque build-up on the surface of the teeth
Causes of Gingivitis in Cats
Common causes of gingivitis in cats include:
- Autoimmune Diseases
- Soft Food
- Bad Dental Care
- FeLV (Feline Leukemia Virus)
- Crowded teeth
Diagnosing Gingivitis in Cats
Since cats are so good at hiding their pain, it may be difficult to tell they have oral discomfort even if they are experiencing extreme oral pain. Even cats who are eating normally and are active can have significant dental disease. 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 Of Gingivitis In Cats
Treating gingivitis is focused 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 experience relief from the extremely painful condition, their teeth are frequently extracted by a veterinarian if necessary.
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
Brushing should be introduced gradually and consistently so that cats become accustomed to it. Cat-specific toothbrushes and toothpaste are available for purchase at pet supply stores and can help avoid gingivitis. Never use human dental products for animals, as ingredients could cause great harm or even death to our pets.
Familiarize your cat with toothbrushes and 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 accustomed to the taste.
Acclimate kitty to you touching their mouth
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.
When your cat has gotten used to their toothpaste and toothpaste, as well as you touching their mouth, it should be easier to brush their teeth. Brush along the gum line for about 15-30 seconds, only on the outside of the teeth, and reward them with a treat and lots of praise 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.