Gingivitis can cause your cat to experience mouth pain. The condition needs prompt dental care from your veterinarian. Here, our Los Angeles vets discuss the causes, symptoms, and treatment options for gingivitis in cats. 

Feline Gingivitis

Gingivitis occurs when the gum or gingiva surrounding the teeth become inflamed. This disease can cause symptoms ranging from moderate to severe. In serious cases, cats with gingivitis can become extremely uncomfortable and develop issues with eating.

A dental cleaning under anesthesia would be needed to treat the condition. Similar to humans, plaque (an accumulation of germs, dead skin cells, mucus, food, and debris) can build up on the teeth and contribute to this disease. 

Causes of Gingivitis in Cats

Common causes of gingivitis in cats include:

  • Autoimmune diseases
  • Crowded teeth
  • FeLV (Feline Leukemia Virus)
  • Poor oral hygiene
  • Soft food
  • Old age

Signs of Gingivitis in Cats

Common signs of gingivitis in cats include:

  • Drooling
  • Plaque buildup 
  • Difficulty picking up toys or food, and keeping them in the mouth
  • Bad breath 
  • Calculi/tartar
  • Red or swollen gums 
  • Difficulty eating
  • Not eating at all 

Diagnosing Gingivitis in Cats

Cats typically mask their pain well, which is why you might not notice any signs of discomfort even if they are suffering from severe oral pain. 

Your feline friend may continue being active and eating like normal, but still have dental disease. It's important to take your cat to the vet regularly for routine exams, to give your vet the opportunity to identify any symptoms of dental problems. Vets are often able to spot signs of conditions while observing an animal and checking for the symptoms listed above. 

How to Treat Cat Gingivitis

If your cat has been diagnosed with gingivitis, treatment will focus on removing 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.

Caring for 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.

Brush Your Cat's Teeth

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.

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.

Is it time for your cat's professional dental exam and cleaning? Contact our Los Angeles vets to book an appointment for your four-legged companion.