Poor dental health can lead to a lot of pain in cats. Majority of cats develop some sort of dental disease by the age of 3, Gingivitis being one of the most common types as the beginning stage of periodontal disease. Here, our Jackson vets share some symptoms, causes and treatments of gingivitis in cats.
What is Gingivitis in Cats?
Gingivitis in cats is the inflammation of the gums around the teeth. This dental condition can range from moderate to severe, leading to avoidance of eating due to pain and even tooth removal in some serious cases.
Gingivitis is caused when plaque is built up on the teeth. When it isn't brushed away, this plaque can turn into tartar, a very hard substance on the teeth which strips enamel and can cause recession, ulceration, and bleeding of the gums.
Signs of Gingivitis in Cats
If you notice any of the following symptoms in your cat, take them to the vet for a dental examination right away:
- Red or swollen gums, especially around the area of the inner cheek
- Bad breath
- Plaque build-up on the surface of the teeth
- Difficulty eating or not eating at all
Causes of Gingivitis in Cats
Some of the most common causes of gingivitis in cats include:
- Old age
- Crowded teeth
- Soft Food
- Bad Dental Care
- Autoimmune Diseases
- FeLV (Feline Leukemia Virus)
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
Some cat-specific toothbrushes and toothpaste can help avoid gingivitis with frequent cleaning. You should introduce brushing to your cat gradually so they don't have a negative association with the process.
Here are some ways to get your cat used to tooth brushing to make the process easier:
- 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 clickable 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.
- Brushing. With your cat used to the toothbrush, toothpaste, and you touching their mouth, it should e 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.