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Gingivitis in Cats - Symptoms, Causes & Treatments

Gingivitis can be a painful experience for cats and must be cared for immediately. In this post, our New Hope vets discuss the causes, signs, and treatment of gingivitis in cats.

Gingivitis in Cats

Gingivitis is inflammation of the gum or gingiva, which surrounds the teeth. This disease could range from moderate to severe, and in serious situations, cats with gingivitis can become very uncomfortable and have problems eating. To remedy the condition, a tooth cleaning under anesthesia would be required. Just like humans, plaque - a buildup of germs, debris, dead skin cells, mucus, and food - can accumulate on the teeth and contribute to this dental issue.

Signs & Symptoms of Gingivitis in Cats

Common signs of gingivitis in cats can include:

  • Plaque build-up
  • Bad breath
  • Drooling
  • Difficulty picking up toys
  • Calculi/tartar
  • Difficulty eating
  • Not eating at all
  • Red or swollen gums

The Causes of Cat Gingivitis

Some common causes of gingivitis in cats may include:

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

Diagnosing Gingivitis in Cats

Because cats are talented at masking their pain, they might not display any clues of discomfort, even if their oral pain is severe. Your cat may continue being active and eating as normal but still have dental disease. It's essential to take your cat to the vet regularly for routine exams, to provide your vet with the chance to detect any signs of dental problems. Vets are often able to identify signs of conditions while observing an animal and checking for the symptoms listed above.

Treating Gingivitis in Cats

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 diseases, regular tooth cleanings and dental X-rays should be conducted under anesthesia.

For cats with stomatitis to have a comfortable mouth, their teeth often have to be extracted by a veterinarian, if needed.

How often you need to bring your cat to the vet for dental checkups will be determined by how serious your cat's periodontal disease is. If your adult cat has overcrowded teeth or if they have baby (deciduous) teeth, your vet might suggest a tooth extraction. Your veterinarian will teach you how to brush your cat's teeth, and you should schedule follow-up exams.

Maintaining Your Cat's Oral Health

You can purchase toothpaste and brushes specifically designed for cats at most pet supply stores, these can help prevent gingivitis. You should gradually and consistently introduce your kitty to the toothbrushing process so they can get used to it.

Make Your Cat Comfortable With Toothpaste & Toothbrushes

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.

Getting Your Cat Used to You Touching 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.

Brushing Your Cat's Teeth at Home

Once your cat is familiar with you touching their mouth and the feeling of a toothbrush and toothpaste, you should have an easier time brushing their teeth. Brush along their gum line (only on the outside of their teeth) for approximately 15 to 30 seconds, and when you are done reward them with a treat.

Is your cat due for a dental exam or showing signs of gingivitis? Contact our New Hope vets to schedule an appointment for your feline friend.

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New Hope Animal Hospital is accepting new patients! Let our experienced vets give your pet the comprehensive care they deserve. Reach out today to book your pet's first appointment.

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