What is gingivitis and how does it affect cats?
When the gums surrounding your cat's teeth become inflamed, it is known as gingivitis. While your cat may experience anywhere from a mild to a severe case of gingivitis, it will always result is discomfort for your cat and lead to other more serious complications.
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?
Some of the typical signs of gingivitis to look for are:
- Red or swollen gums, especially around the area of the inner cheek.
- Bad breath.
- Difficulty eating or not eating at all.
- Difficulty picking up toys or food.
- Plaque build-up on the surface of the teeth.
- Calculi or tartar build-up.
What are the common causes of gingivitis?
Your cat may be more likely to experience gingivitis due to any of these factors:
- Bad Dental Care
- Old Age
- Autoimmune Diseases
- Soft Food
- FeLV (Feline Leukemia Virus)
- Crowded Teeth
How Your Vet With Diagnose Gingivitis in Your Cat
Your cat will likely do everything possible to hide the pain that they might be experiencing. Just because your cat is eating and behaving as they usually do, does not mean that they are free from gingivitis or other dental concerns.
Bringing your cat in for their annual routine dental exam is essential to the detection of dental disease, A veterinarian is often able to identify signs of diseases while observing an animal and checking for symptoms listed above.
What are the treatment options for cats suffering from 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.
Dental extractions are usually recommended for cats that are experiencing the painful symptoms that accompany stomatitis.
The frequency of dental checkups will be determined by the degree of periodontal disease. 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.
What can you do to help protect your cat's teeth and oral health?
Cat-specific toothbrushes and toothpaste are available for purchase at pet supply stores and can help avoid gingivitis. By introducing tooth brushing slowly and at your cat's pace, you can help set your cat up for lifelong dental health.
Begin by showing your cat the toothbrush.
Leave snacks on the counter near the toothpaste and toothbrush so cats can associate something positive with them. Allowing your cat to taste the toothpaste can help them to relate the process to something that they enjoy and know.
Touch your cat's mouth as much as possible.
Choose a dental treat your cat enjoys and place it on its 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.
Brush your cat's teeth daily.
Once your cat knows what the toothbrush and toothpaste look like and that they aren't a threat and you've been actively touching their mouth, you should be able to transition to brushing their teeth with ease. 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.
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.