You should always be extremely vigilant about the oral health of your cat. Gum disease affects all types of cats.
The disease, also referred to as gingivitis, leads to chronic gum inflammation. The condition may worsen over time, especially when it affects the gum and tooth line.
Once infected with the disease, the body attempts to fight back by targeting the accumulated bacteria, plaque, and tartar around the gum and tooth line.
As a result, the dental health of your beloved cut suffers. If left untreated, gingivitis damages the affected tooth and the underlying bone and root, causing pain. The infection may lead to loss of the tooth.
Vets are yet to establish why some pet cats develop gum disease more than others. Most dentists blame inheritance and mouth chemistry for the disease.
It also results from respiratory viruses. Genetics are known to play a huge role in most autoimmune health conditions in cats.
While the disease is an autoimmune condition, its cause is yet to be established.
Regardless of what causes the disease, pet owners should always remain alert to indicators, both subtle and apparent ones.
Knowing the signs of the disease can help to know when something is terribly wrong with your cat.
The main signs for gum disease include:
- Bad breath
- Poor appetite
- Difficulties in eating
- Moving food excessively around its mouth without much swallowing or eating from one side
- Mild swelling on the face
- Missing or loose teeth
- Bleeding (noticed mainly from the mouth and at times from the nose)
- Poor grooming and looking unkempt
- Reddish gums
The Nature of Gum Disease
It’s easy to notice inflamed gums in your cat. The cat may look very red, angry, and hot. If you notice such issues in your cat, then it’s in some sort of discomfort. Mild swelling around the face may also occur as a result of the disease.
Difficulties in eating may not be caused by toothache. Cats hardly use teeth when eating.
The discomfort is usually as a result of difficulties in stretching out their tongue to scoop some food and put it at the back area of the mouth.
The movement tends to strain the gums. Moving the tongue will hurt, so they rather not eat.
Thus, when you find your cat having difficulties in eating, it’s probably due to discomfort in the mouth.
Also, if you find that your pet cat looks unsettled and not sitting pretty, then it might be having gingivitis. An unkempt, messy coat is also an indicator of dental issues.
When your kitty feels pain in its gums, then it would find it difficult to groom since it would be painful to do so.
In some instances, cats develop inflammation or stomatitis in their entire oral cavity. The inflammation looks like an autoimmune health condition.
Cats that have stomatitis may even find it difficult to swallow saliva. They’ll tend to drool and in some extreme cases, surgery might be required.
In severe cases, the tooth may sink into the receding gum. The cat will only reabsorb it upon healing. It’s extremely painful when the tooth is receding or being reabsorbed.
How to Prevent Gingivitis in Your Pet Cat
Preventing gingivitis in cats requires dental care. It can be quite rigorous in severe cases. It may demand cleaning twice every year, X-rays, polishing, or even removing the affected tooth.
Removal of the tooth is done after anesthetizing the cat. While some cats are okay with annual cleaning, others require cleaning more regularly, say once in three months.
Dental care for cats also requires X-rays. While you may be seeing the affected tooth with your naked eyes, the actual problem may only be revealed by X-rays.
X-rays see the root of the tooth and how it’s attached to the cat’s jaw.
Your cat needs to be anesthetized whenever it undergoes cleaning and examination. Nowadays, most cats are able to tolerate anesthesia since the technology has advanced over time.
Hyperthyroidism, another medical condition, may require treatment first if present before anesthesia. However, today, age alone is no longer used to rule out anesthesia in cats.
How to Treat Gingivitis in Cats
Sadly, in some extreme cases such as stomatitis, the vet may have to remove each and every teeth. Such a treatment option sounds even worse than gum disease.
However, it offers relief. After all, cats can use their tongue to feed more than the teeth. Thus, they can feed well without teeth.
In case bacteria in the mouth is causing the disease, then your vet may advise you to add a prescription antiseptic in the kitty’s drinking water.
Topical antibiotics or antiseptic mouthwash are also ideal options for cleansing a mouth with bacteria.
In other cases, the vet may prescribe a diet that can eliminate the microbes that lead to the buildup of tartar and plaque on the teeth.
Pet owners can also try taking care of the oral hygiene of their cats. While most cats may not agree to home brushing, it’s usually beneficial.
Your veterinary will ultimately advise you on the best approach to treat your cat depending on the case at hand and the root cause of the health condition.
In conclusion, the first thing to do is to establish what you’re dealing with.