Gingivitis is an early form of gum disease that can affect our feline friends. It can lead to serious and uncomfortable symptoms for your cat. Today, our Picayune vets discuss the causes, signs, and treatment of gingivitis in cats and how dental care and teeth cleaning can help.
Gingivitis: How it Happens & What Can Be Done to Prevent It
Gingivitis is inflammation of the gum or gingiva, which surrounds the teeth. It is also the earliest stage of gum disease. This disease could range from moderate to severe, and in serious situations, cats that have gingivitis can become very uncomfortable and have problems eating. 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 causes of gingivitis in cats?
Some of the most common causes of gingivitis in cats are:
- Crowded teeth
- FeLV (Feline Leukemia Virus)
- Autoimmune Diseases
- Old age
- Soft Food
- Bad Dental Care
What are the signs of gingivitis in cats?
Common signs and symptoms of gingivitis in cats can include:
- Plaque build-up
- Bad breath
- Difficulty picking up toys
- Difficulty eating
- Not eating at all
- Red or swollen gums
How will my vet diagnose my cat's gingivitis?
Cats are experts at disguising pain, even at its worst. This makes diagnosing and treating issues quite difficult. Your cat may continue being active and eating as normal but still have dental disease. It's essential to take your cat to the vet regularly for routine exams, to provide your vet with the chance to detect any signs of dental problems. Vets are often able to identify signs of conditions while observing an animal and checking for the symptoms listed above.
What are the treatment options for 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 diseases, regular tooth cleanings and dental X-rays should be conducted under anesthesia.
For cats with stomatitis to have a comfortable mouth, their teeth often have to be extracted by a veterinarian, if needed.
How often you need to bring your cat to the vet for dental checkups will be determined by how serious your cat's periodontal disease is. If your adult cat has overcrowded teeth or if they have baby (deciduous) teeth, your vet might suggest a tooth extraction. Your veterinarian will teach you how to brush your cat's teeth, and you should schedule follow-up exams.
At-Home Oral Health Care for Cats
Cat dental care is crucial to their health, this includes at-home care between professional teeth cleaning visits. You can purchase toothpaste and brushes specifically designed for cats at most pet supply stores, these can help prevent gingivitis. You should gradually and consistently introduce your kitty to the toothbrushing process so they can get used to it.
Getting Comfortable With a Toothbrush
It may be a good idea to have the toothbrush sit near the treats so that your cat will associate the toothbrush with something good. You can also place a dab of toothpaste for them to lick off your finger so they get accustomed to it.
Adjusting to Having Their Mouth Touched
Start by using a treat that they enjoy and place it in their mouth and against their teeth when offering one. 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 Regularly
Once your cat is familiar with you touching their mouth and the feeling of a toothbrush and toothpaste, you should have an easier time brushing their teeth. Brush along their gum line (only on the outside of their teeth) for approximately 15 to 30 seconds, and when you are done reward them with a treat.
Comprehensive Dental Care for Pets
At our animal hospital in Picayune, we provide complete dental care for your pet, from basics such as dental exams, cat and dog teeth cleanings, and polishing, to dental X-rays, and surgeries including tooth extractions and jaw fracture repair.
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.