Dental disease is prevalent in most cats that are over the age of three due to most cats not receiving the necessary routine dental care. Our Alpharetta vets share the signs and causes of gingivitis and dental disease in cats as well as ways that your can help prevent it from happening.
Gingivitis in Cats
Gingivitis is inflammation of the gum or gingiva, which surrounds the teeth. The disease can range from moderate to severe, and if your cat is suffering from advanced gingivitis then eating or using their mouth could be extremely painful for them. 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 Most Common Signs of Gingivitis in Cats
Common signs of gingivitis in cats 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
The Most Common Causes of Gingivitis in Cats
Common causes of gingivitis in cats include:
- Autoimmune Diseases
- Old age
- Soft Food
- Bad Dental Care
- FeLV (Feline Leukemia Virus)
- Crowded teeth
What is the Typical Diagnosis for Gingivitis in Cats?
No matter what the cause of the pain is or no matter how much pain they are in, cats will always attempt to hide it and they are very good at it. 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 listed above.
How is Gingivitis in Cats Treated?
Gingivitis 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.
For cats suffering from stomatitis to have a comfortable mouth, it will be likely that a veterinarian will recommend the removal of all of their teeth.
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. During this visit, your veterinarian will also show you how to properly clean and care for your cat's teeth and schedule the next routine visit.
How You Can Help Protect Your Cat's Teeth From Gingivitis
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.
Make the toothpaste and toothbrush common objects around the home
Along with leaving the toothbrush and toothpaste out in the open, you could also leave treats or objects that your cat associates with happiness near them. You can also place a dab of toothpaste for them to lick off your finger so they get accustomed to it.
Touch your cat's mouth as frequently as possible
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 brushing 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.