If your cat is over the age of three then there it is very likely that they are experiencing some form of dental condition. Our Bedford vets discuss the signs of gingivitis in cats and what the common causes and treatment options are.
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.
What are the Signs of Gingivitis in Cats?
If your cat is suffering from gingivitis then they may be experiencing symptoms such as:
- 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
What are the Causes of Gingivitis in Cats?
Some of the most common causes of gingivitis in cats include:
- Autoimmune Diseases
- Old age
- Soft Food
- Bad Dental Care
- FeLV (Feline Leukemia Virus)
- Crowded teeth
How is Gingivitis in Cats Diagnosed?
Regardless of how much pain your cat may be in it can be difficult to recognize, this is because cats are masters at hiding any pain or injuries. 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 your vet will be able to notice any signs of discomfort that you may not be able to see or recognize.
How is Gingivitis in Cats Treated?
When your cat is being treated for gingivitis your vet will focus on eliminating accumulated plaque and dental calculus, as well as treating or extracting destabilized and/or diseased teeth. If your cat requires treatment for any inflammatory dental disease, routine tooth cleanings or dental X-rays then they will be placed under anesthetic.
If your cat is suffering from stomatitis then your vet will likely recommend tooth extraction as a way of making them more comfortable.
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 Prevent Gingivitis in Cats
Cat-specific toothbrushes and toothpaste are available for purchase at pet supply stores and can help avoid gingivitis. It is important to work slowly at getting your cat accustomed to toothbrushes and the act of brushing their teeth in order to make it a good experience.
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. Allowing them to adjust to the toothpaste by placing some on your finger for them to taste it can be helpful.
Get your cat used 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.
Begin brushing your cat's teeth on a regular 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.