Are you noticing that your cat's breath is worse than normal and not only right after they've eaten? They may be experiencing early signs of gum disease. Here, our Rancho Palos Verdes vets share some information about gingivitis in cats, what the most common symptoms and causes are and how to treat it.
Gingivitis in Cats: What is it and how does it happen?
Gingivitis literally translates to gum (gingiva) inflammation (-itis). Cases of gingivitis in cats may range from early stage to advanced and if left untreated may cause the cat to experience pain while being unable to eat.
To remedy the condition, 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.
The Common Signs of Gingivitis in Cats
Some of the common symptoms that a cat may experience with gingivitis include:
- Red or swollen gums
- Smelly breath
- Difficulty eating or not eating at all
- Difficulty picking up toys or food
- Excessive drooling
- Plaque build-up on the surface of the teeth
Typical Causes of Cat Gingivitis
If your cat experiences gingivitis there can be a variety of causes including:
- Bad Dental Care
- Old age
- Autoimmune Diseases
- Soft Food
- FeLV (Feline Leukemia Virus)
- Crowded teeth
How Gingivitis in Cats is Diagnosed
Since cats are so adept at hiding their pain, they may not show any signs of discomfort even if they are in severe 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 detecting dental disease, as a vet can often identify signs of conditions while observing an animal and checking for symptoms listed above.
Treatment Options For Cats With Gingivitis
When your cat undergoes treatment for gingivitis the vet will clear out any plaque and built-up tartar on their 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 You Can Help Care For Your Cat's Teeth
You can help prevent your cat from developing gingivitis by purchasing a cat-specific toothbrush and toothpaste from your local vet or pet store. Brushing should be introduced gradually and consistently so that cats become accustomed to it.
Let your cat get accustomed to the toothbrush 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.
Start touching your cat's mouth often to get them used to it.
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.
Brush your cat's teeth once they are ready.
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 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.