Caring for your cat's teeth can go a long way in protecting their oral health. If not properly cared for they could develop dental conditions such as gingivitis. Our vets in White Hall share some of the common signs of gingivitis in cats, how it is diagnosed and what you can do to care for your kitty's teeth at home.
Gingivitis in Cats - How does it develop?
Gingivitis is the inflammation of the gums. This condition can be mild or range to severe causing serious issues with eating, vocalizing and your kitty's overall health. If your cat is suffering from gingivitis, your vet will need to perform a complete dental cleaning with your feline friend under general anesthesia. A build-up of food debris on the teeth can lead to plaque which, if not cleaned away, can lead to the development of oral conditions such as gingivitis.
Cat Gingivitis Symptoms
The typical signs that accompany gingivitis are:
- Red or swollen gums, especially around the area of the inner cheek
- Bad breath
- Difficulty eating or not eating at all
- Difficulty picking up toys or food
- Plaque build-up on the surface of the teeth
- Calculi / Tartar
Cat Gingivitis Causes
The common causes of gingivitis in cats include:
- Bad Dental Care
- Old age
- Autoimmune Diseases
- Soft Food
- FeLV (Feline Leukemia Virus)
- Crowded teeth
Diagnosis of Gingivitis in Cats
There is a good chance that you won't even be able to tell that your cat is in pain or suffering from a dental concern until it is quite advanced. This is a natural behavior for cats as they spent centuries living wild where they needed to protect themselves and not show any weakness. This makes it very important that you pay attention to every sign that your cat may show. Bringing your cat in for their annual routine exam is also 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.
Treating Gingivitis in Cats
You may be wondering how to treat cat gingivitis in the event that it occurs. The main treatment option 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.
One of the common oral conditions affecting cats is stomatitis. This condition is fairly painful for cats. In order to treat this condition, your vet will need to remove the affected teeth. This will reduce any pain and protect the surrounding 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. Your vet can also show you how to properly clean your cat's teeth and what you can do to avoid further dental issues.
How Clean Your Cat's Teeth at Home
The are a variety of cat toothpastes available. Most of which are made to taste yummy for your feline friend. Brushing should be introduced gradually and consistently so that cats become accustomed to it.
Brush Their Teeth With Cat Toothpaste
Leave snacks on the counter near the toothpaste and toothbrush so cats can associate something positive with them. You may also choose to allow your cat to lick a small amount of toothpaste before you begin brushing for the first time to allow them to recognize the flavor once you start.
Help Them Get Used to Teeth Cleaning
You can also use the treats your cat knows and loves to help get them used to touching their mouth. You can begin by placing the treat just inside their mouth the first time. 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.
Make Brushing a Routine
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.
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.