Cleaning your cat's teeth regularly is important to avoid developing gum diseases like gingivitis. Our Leighton vets can provide information on gingivitis in cats, its signs, causes, and treatments.
What is Gingivitis
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 have problems eating and be in pain. To remedy the condition, a tooth cleaning under anesthesia would be required. Plaque - a buildup of germs, debris, dead skin cells, mucus, and food - can accumulate on the teeth and contribute to this dental issue.
Signs of Gingivitis in Cats
The common signs of gingivitis in cats are:
- Red or swollen gums
- Bad breath
- Difficulty eating/not eating at all
- Difficulty picking up toys or food
- Plaque build-up on the surface of the teeth
Causes of 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
Since cats are so adept at hiding their pain, they may not show any signs of oral pain. Even cats who are eating normally and are active can have significant dental diseases. Bringing your cat in for their annual routine exam is essential to the detection of dental disease.
Treatment for Cats with Gingivitis
Gingivitis treatment focuses on eliminating accumulated plaque and tartar, 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.
The frequency of dental exams will be determined by the degree of periodontal disease in your cat. If your adult cat's teeth are overcrowded, or they still have their baby teeth, your veterinarian may recommend a tooth extraction. Your veterinarian will show you how to clean your cat's teeth, and you should attend follow-up exams.
Maintaining Your Cat's Teeth
Cat-specific toothbrushes and toothpaste are available for purchase at pet supply stores and can help avoid gingivitis. Brushing should be introduced gradually and consistently so that cats become accustomed to it.
Get your cat familiar with toothbrushes and toothpaste. 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.
Get your cat used to you touching their mouth. 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.
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.
Brushing your cat's teeth can be enhanced with treats formulated to help clean your cat's teeth.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding people or pets. Always consult with a vet before making medical decisions for your pet.