Most cats develop a form of gum disease by the time they are 3 years of age. This is due to a lack of oral hygiene from the time they are a kitten. Our vets in Nashville talk about gingivitis in cats including how it forms and what can be done to prevent it from occurring.
Gingivitis in Cats: What is it & How Does it Happen?
The term gingivitis translates to inflammation of the gums. This condition can be mild or range to severe causing serious issues with eating, vocalizing and your kitty's overall health. If your cat is suffering from gingivitis, your vet will need to perform a complete dental cleaning with your feline friend under general 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 issue.
Symptoms of Cat Gingivitis
The common signs of gingivitis in cats 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 / Tartar
Causes Gingivitis in Cats
The common causes of gingivitis in cats include:
- Bad Dental Care
- Old age
- Autoimmune Diseases
- Soft Food
- FeLV (Feline Leukemia Virus)
- Crowded teeth
Diagnosis of Gingivitis in Cats
As we often talk about, cats are incredibly good at hiding any pain they may be feeling. There are times when cats can be eating, playing and behaving normally even though they are suffering from painful and advanced diseases and conditions. 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 listed above.
Cat Gingivitis Treatment
If you are wondering how to treat cat gingivitis. The 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.
If your cat is suffering from the condition known as stomatitis then your vet may recommend having the affected teeth removed to help your kitty be more comfortable and pain-free.
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 vet can also show you how to properly clean your cat's teeth and what you can do to avoid further dental issues.
How to Properly Care For Your Cat's Teeth
You can pick up a cat toothbrush and toothpaste from your local vet office or pet supply store which can be used daily to help clean their teeth. Brushing should be introduced gradually and consistently so that cats become accustomed to it.
Getting Your Cat to Adjust to Toothpaste and a Toothbrush
Leave snacks on the counter near the toothpaste and toothbrush so cats can associate something positive with them. You may also choose to allow your cat to lick a small amount of toothpaste before you begin brushing for the first time to allow them to recognize the flavor once you start.
Help Your Cat Become Accustomed to You Touching Their Mouth
You can also use the treats your cat knows and loves to help get them used to touching their mouth. You can begin by placing the treat just inside their mouth the first time. 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.
Brushing and Cleaning Your Cat's Teeth and Mouth
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.
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.