What is Gingivitis in Cats?
Gingivitis is an infection of the gingiva or gum that surrounds the teeth. Gingivitis can range from mild to severe, and in severe cases, cats with gingivitis may have difficulty eating, be extremely uncomfortable, and require anesthesia for a tooth cleaning. Plaque is the buildup of food, debris, germs, dead skin cells, and mucus on the teeth that can lead to gingivitis.
Signs of Gingivitis in Cats
Some of the most common signs of gingivitis in cats include:
- Red or swollen gums, especially around the area of the inner cheek
- Bad breath
- Plaque build-up on the surface of the teeth
- Difficulty eating or not eating at all
Causes of Gingivitis in Cats
Some of the most common causes of gingivitis in cats include:
- Old age
- Crowded teeth
- Soft Food
- Bad Dental Care
- Autoimmune Diseases
- FeLV (Feline Leukemia Virus)
Treatment for Cats with Gingivitis
The treatment of gingivitis focuses on removing accumulated plaque and dental calculus, as well as treating or extracting destabilized and/or diseased teeth. Routine tooth cleanings and dental x-rays should be performed under anesthetic to address any inflammatory dental disease.
To ensure that cats suffering from stomatitis have a comfortable mouth, their teeth are frequently extracted by a veterinarian if necessary.
The extent of periodontal disease in your cat will determine the frequency of dental checkups. If your adult cat's teeth are crowded, or if it has baby (deciduous) teeth, your veterinarian may advise tooth extraction. Your veterinarian will demonstrate how to clean your cat's teeth, and you should schedule regular check-ups.
Maintaining Your Cat's Teeth
Gingivitis can be avoided by using cat-specific toothbrushes and toothpaste, according to the American Dental Association. Brushing should be introduced gradually and consistently for cats to become accustomed to it.
Get your cat familiar with toothbrushes and toothpaste
Place snacks near the toothpaste and toothbrushes on the counter so cats can associate them with something positive. You can also give them a dab of toothpaste to lick off your finger to get them used to it.
Get your cat used to you touching their mouth
Place a clickable treat that your cat enjoys on their canine teeth. Start placing it deeper and deeper into their mouth, on their teeth, as they become accustomed to it. This accustoms them to you touching their mouth and makes it easier to introduce the toothpaste.
Brushing your cat's teeth should be easier now that they're used to the toothbrush, toothpaste, and you touching their mouth. Brush for about 15 to 30 seconds along the gum line, only on the outside of the teeth, and then reward them with a treat.