Gingivitis is an inflammation of the gum that is caused by excess plaque in the mouth. This dental disease can occur not only in humans, but in their furry counterparts as well. While prevention is the best treatment, there are many options if your cat has developed gingivitis. This guide will alert you to the causes and symptoms of gingivitis, as well as treatment options that are available to you and your cat.
Causes of Gingivitis in Cats
Just like gingivitis that occurs in humans, there are dozens of factors that can cause your cat to develop the dental disease. Excess plaque buildups are often due to little or no dry food in a cat’s diet. Canned cat food sticks to your cat’s teeth, causing plaque buildup, whereas dry food helps clean your cat’s teeth.
Eventually, plaque in your cat’s mouth turns into tarter on the teeth and around the gum line. This is where gingivitis comes in and your cat’s gums begin to show symptoms.
Symptoms of Gingivitis in Cats
One of the more obvious signs that your cat may have developed gingivitis would be swollen, red gums, in addition to bad breath.
Your cat may show signs at his food bowl with a lack of eating, due to pain, and even weight loss. Without treatment, these simple signs can eventually turn into other more serious dental diseases in your cat such as periodontitis and tooth loss.
Cats with chronic gingivitis may have more serious symptoms including aggressiveness, reclusive behavior, depression and even irritability. Some cats may also experience drooling.
Treatments for Cats with Gingivitis
If you suspect your cat has developed gingivitis, it is important for him to be seen by a veterinarian. Your vet can perform a thorough oral exam (which may or may not require being put under through anesthesia,) to verify the presence of a dental disease.
Once your cat has been diagnosed with gingivitis, there will be treatment options based on how far along the disease is. In some cats, a thorough cleaning may be all that is necessary to stop the disease from furthering; along with a change in diet and regular at-home cleanings.
In extreme cases, your cat’s teeth may need to be removed due to serious decay (such as tooth resorption.) Tooth removal is often the only way to fully stop the disease (in extreme cases,) from continuing to spread beneath the gum line, even after a thorough cleaning.
Preventing Gingivitis in Cats
After your cat’s teeth have been professionally cleaned, it is important that you follow through with regular dental care for the rest of your cat’s life. Regular cleanings will help prevent a reoccurrence of gingivitis or another dental disease that your cat may now be susceptible to.
If possible, make it a point to brush your teeth’s cat at night when you are brushing yours. Making it part of your nightly routine can make it less of a hassle.
Switching from canned food to dry food will also help keep your cat’s teeth cleaner. Canned food should be a treat, and you should clean your cat’s teeth following his meal.
Overall, keeping your cat’s teeth clean will save you more money in the long run. It will also help prevent any future damage to the oral cavity and prevent future diseases from occurring.
Feline Stomatitis and Chronic Gingivitis in Cats by Holly Nash, DVM MS