Dental problems can be very painful for cats. In this post, our Grand Prairie vets share the signs and causes of gingivitis in cats and explain how you can help prevent it.
Gingivitis in Cats
Gingivitis is inflammation of the gum or gingiva, that surrounds a cat's teeth. The disease can range from moderate to severe. In serious cases, cats that have gingivitis can have problems eating and become very uncomfortable. In order 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 problem.
Signs of Cat Gingivitis
Here are some common signs of gingivitis in cats:
- 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
- Difficulty picking up toys or food
Causes of Gingivitis in Cats
Below are some common causes of cat gingivitis:
- Bad Dental Care
- Old age
- Crowded teeth
- Soft Food
- Autoimmune Diseases
- FeLV (Feline Leukemia Virus)
Diagnosing Cat With Gingivitis
Because cats are skilled at masking their pain, they might not exhibit any signs of discomfort even, if they are suffering from severe oral pain. Even cats who are eating normally and are active can have significant dental disease. It's essential to take your cat to the vet for their annual routine exam so dental diseases can be detected early. Vets are often able to identify signs of conditions while observing an animal and checking for the symptoms listed above.
Treating Gingivitis in Cats
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 anesthesia.
In order to help cats suffering from stomatitis to have a comfortable mouth, their teeth may have to be extracted by a veterinarian if required.
The number of dental checkups your cat needs will be determined by the degree of their periodontal disease. If your adult cat's teeth are overcrowded, or if they have baby (deciduous) teeth, your veterinarian might 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 prevent gingivitis. Brushing should be introduced gradually and consistently so your cat can get used to it.
Get your kitty accustomed to 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 your kitty to lick off your finger so they can get accustomed to the taste.
Get your cat familiar with you touching their mouth.
Choose a dental treat your cat enjoys and place it on their canine teeth. As they become used to it, start placing it deeper and deeper into their mouth, on their teeth. This gets them familiar with you touching their mouth and makes it easier for you to introduce the toothpaste.
Brush your cat's teeth.
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.