Dental issues in cats can be excruciatingly painful. Gingivitis is the first stage of periodontal disease in cats over the age of three, and it affects up to 85 percent of cats over the age of three. This stage is reversible with proper care, and our Beacon veterinarians will assist you in getting there.
What is Gingivitis in Cats?
Gingivitis is a condition in which the gums that surround the teeth become inflamed. Gingivitis can range from mild to severe, and in severe cases, cats with gingivitis may have difficulty eating, be very uncomfortable, and require anesthesia for a tooth cleaning. Plaque is a buildup of food, debris, germs, dead skin cells, and mucus on the teeth that can cause gingivitis.
Signs of Gingivitis in Cats
Some of the most common signs of gingivitis in cats include:
- 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
The treatment of gingivitis focuses on removing plaque and dental calculus, as well as treating or extracting destabilized and/or diseased teeth. Routine tooth cleanings and dental x-rays should be performed under anesthetic to address any inflammatory dental disease.
For cats with stomatitis to have a comfortable mouth, their teeth are often extracted by a veterinarian if necessary.
The severity of your cat's periodontal disease will determine the frequency of dental checkups. Your veterinarian may recommend tooth extraction if your adult cat's teeth are overcrowded or if it has baby (deciduous) teeth. Your veterinarian will show you how to brush your cat's teeth and recommend that you have regular checkups.
Maintaining Your Cat's Teeth
Gingivitis can be avoided with cat-specific toothbrushes and toothpaste, according to the American Dental Association. Brushing should be introduced gradually and consistently to ensure that cats are comfortable with it.
Get your cat familiar with toothbrushes and toothpaste
Place snacks near the toothpaste and toothbrush on the counter so cats will associate them with something positive. You can also put a dab of toothpaste on your finger for them to lick to get used to it.
Get your cat used to you touching their mouth
Place a clickable treat on your cat's canine teeth that he or she enjoys. Start putting it deeper and deeper into their mouths, on their teeth, as they get used to it. This helps them get used to you touching their mouth and allows you to introduce the toothpaste more easily.
Brushing your cat's teeth should be easier now that they're used to the toothbrush, toothpaste, and you touching their mouth. Brush for 15 to 30 seconds along the gum line, only on the outside of the teeth, and then reward them with a treat.