Dental Issues are not restricted to humans only, concerns such as plaque and gingivitis are present in other animals such as cats. Our Thornton vets discuss the symptoms of cat gingivitis, what causes this condition and how we can help prevent it and protect the oral health of our feline friends.
Cat 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 be unable to eat normally and may potentially be in a significant amount of pain. In order to treat cat gingivitis, 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.
Symptoms of Cat Gingivitis
Common signs of cat gingivitis are:
- 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
Causes of Cat Gingivitis
Common causes of cat gingivitis include:
- Autoimmune Diseases
- Old age
- Soft Food
- Bad Dental Care
- FeLV (Feline Leukemia Virus)
- Crowded teeth
How Cat Gingivitis is Diagnosed
Cats are natural predators which means that they will do everything they can in order to keep any symptoms of pain or illness well hidden. 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 a vet is often able to identify signs of conditions while observing an animal and checking for symptoms of cat gingivitis above.
How Cat Gingivitis is Treated
If your cat is suffering from the symptoms of gingivitis the treatment will be focused 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.
For cats suffering from stomatitis to have a comfortable mouth, their teeth are frequently extracted by a veterinarian if it is called for.
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 to Properly Care for Your Cat's Teeth
Toothbrushes and toothpaste that are made specifically for cats are available for purchase at pet supply stores and can help prevent the symptoms of cat gingivitis. Brushing should be introduced gradually and consistently so that cats become accustomed to it.
Allow your cat to spend time around the toothbrush
Leave snacks on the counter near the toothpaste and toothbrush so cats can associate something positive with them. You can also place a dab of toothpaste for them to lick off your finger so they get accustomed to it.
Help your cat become accustomed 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 to brush your cat's teeth as often as possible
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. Just this little bit of effort can help prevent cat gingivitis.