Your cat's oral health is an important part of their overall health and wellness. Even so, most adult cats suffer from dental disease. Our Sacramento vets talk about the signs and causes of dental disease and gingivitis in cats as well as treatment options.
What Exactly is Gingivitis?
Gingivitis occurs when there is inflammation of the gum or gingiva surrounding the teeth. There are various stages of this disease from moderate to severe, and in extreme cases, cats with gingivitis may have problems eating and grow very uncomfortable. Your cat will require a tooth cleaning under anesthesia in order to treat plaque and gingivitis. Plaque is a continuous buildup of food and bacteria on your cat's teeth that can lead to more serious oral health conditions.
What Are Some Symptoms 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
What Are Some 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
How is Gingivitis in Cats Diagnosed?
Cats are notorious for hiding any signs of pain or discomfort that they may be experiencing just as they would in nature, which makes diagnosing oral health conditions difficult. 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.
Treatment Options for Cats with Gingivitis
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, 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.
At-Home Preventive Care For Your Cat
At-home care is an important part of your cat's dental health routine and is recommended in order to help prevent serious types of dental diseases. 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.
How to get your cat used to the toothbrush & 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 and allow them to smell and interact with the toothbrush in order to allow them to get used to the presence of it.
How to get your cat used to your fingers in their mouth
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.
How to brush your cat's teeth
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.