Poor dental health can lead to a lot of pain in cats. The majority of cats develop some dental disease by the age of 3, gingivitis being one of the most common types as the beginning stage of periodontal disease. In this article, our Lisle vets share some symptoms, causes, and treatments of gingivitis in cats.
Gingivitis is a condition that occurs when the gum or gingiva around the teeth becomes inflamed. This disease can range from mild to severe, and in severe cases, cats with gingivitis can experience discomfort and difficulty eating. To treat the condition, a tooth cleaning procedure under anesthesia is necessary. Similar to humans, plaque - a build-up of germs, debris, dead skin cells, mucus, and food - can accumulate on the teeth and lead to this dental issue.
Causes of Gingivitis in Cats
Some common causes of gingivitis in cats may include:
- Crowded teeth
- FeLV (Feline Leukemia Virus)
- Autoimmune Diseases
- Old age
- Soft Food
- Bad Dental Care
Signs of Gingivitis in Cats
Common signs of gingivitis in cats can include:
- Plaque build-up
- Bad breath
- Difficulty picking up toys
- Difficulty eating
- Not eating at all
- Red or swollen gums
Diagnosing Gingivitis in Cats
Cats are skilled at hiding their pain, making it challenging to identify if they are experiencing oral pain. Even if your cat is suffering from severe dental disease, they may seem normal to you, continuing to eat and be active.
That's why taking your cat for regular check-ups with the vet is essential; it can detect any indications of dental problems. Vets are proficient in recognizing signs of conditions by examining animals and checking for the symptoms mentioned above.
Feline Gingivitis Treatment
Gingivitis treatment aims to eliminate accumulated plaque and dental calculus, as well as treat or extract any destabilized and/or diseased teeth. Regular tooth cleanings and dental X-rays conducted under anesthesia are recommended to address any inflammatory dental diseases. Cats with stomatitis may require tooth extraction by a veterinarian to help manage their condition and ensure a comfortable mouth.
The frequency of dental checkups for your cat will depend on the severity of their periodontal disease. If your adult cat has overcrowded teeth or still has baby (deciduous) teeth, your vet may suggest tooth extraction. Your veterinarian will also guide you on brushing your cat's teeth, and you should schedule follow-up exams as recommended.
Caring for Your Cat's Oral Health
You can find toothpaste and brushes specifically designed for cats at most pet supply stores. Gradually introduce your cat to toothbrushing to get them used to it and prevent gingivitis.
Make Your Cat Comfortable With Toothpaste & Toothbrushes
Leave treats near the toothbrush and toothpaste to associate them with positive experiences. Introduce toothpaste slowly by placing a small amount on your finger and letting your cat lick it off.
Getting Your Cat Used 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, they start putting 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
Once your cat becomes accustomed to you touching their mouth and gets used to the sensation of a toothbrush and toothpaste, brushing their teeth should become easier. Brush their gum line, focusing only on the outer surface of their teeth. Do this for about 15 to 30 seconds, and once you are finished, give them a treat as a reward.