Gingivitis in Cats - Symptoms, Causes & Treatments

When cats don't receive the appropriate care for their teeth, the risk of oral health issues greatly increases. Our vets talk about the importance of cat dental care and how our cat dentistry services in East Setauket can help prevent conditions like gingivitis. 

Cat Dental Health Issues - Gingivitis

When a cat experiences gingivitis, a buildup of plaque, caused by food debris and a lack of brushing, leads to 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.

Symptoms of Gingivitis in Cats

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
    • Drooling
    • Plaque build-up on the surface of the teeth
    • Calculi / Tartar

Causes of Cat Gingivitis

The common causes of gingivitis in cats include:

    • Bad Dental Care
    • Old age
    • Autoimmune Diseases
    • Soft Food
    • FeLV (Feline Leukemia Virus)
    • Crowded teeth

How will the vet diagnose gingivitis?

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.

What are the treatment options for gingivitis in cats?

If your cat is diagnosed with gingivitis then you may wonder what the steps are to treat it and prevent it from reoccurring. 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.

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. In order to prevent future issues, your vet will be able to show you how to properly clean your cat's teeth and set up a schedule for routine veterinary visits for teeth cleaning and examinations.

What are some ways you can help keep your cat's teeth clean at home?

When it comes to choosing toothpaste, there are a number of different types and flavors on the market. 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.

Use a cat toothbrush and toothpaste to brush your cat's teeth.

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.

Take your time when getting them used to teeth cleaning.

Treats are a great help in getting your cat to feel more excited about you touching their mouth and potentially brushing their teeth. 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 teeth brushing a normal part of their daily routine.

Once your cat is used to you touching their mouth, they will become more receptive to you brushing 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.

Do you need to schedule your cat for routine dental care including a cleaning and examination? Contact our East Setauket vets today to book a visit.