Do You Know the Warning Signs of Gingivitis in Cats?

When your dentist tells you that you have gingivitis, it's a reminder that you perhaps haven't been as vigilant with cleaning your teeth as you should be. But still, as far as dental problems go, it's fairly minor, assuming it's detected in its early stages. Generally, all you need is professional cleaning to reverse the bacteria-induced inflammation of your gums. But what about the other members of your family? Gingivitis is actually a real possibility for cats, but how would you even know if your feline friend is affected?

How Gingivitis Develops

The cause of gingivitis in cats is the same as in humans. Plaque forms when oral bacteria is introduced to various starches and sugars in food and drink, and this bacteria then create acid. This acid (and the bacteria that produced it) can then combine with dietary carbohydrates which accumulate on the teeth as plaque. When this plaque isn't cleaned, it can harden and form dental calculus. This hardened substance can leach harmful bacterial compounds into the mouth, which then enter the gums, leading to a bacterial-induced inflammation. You can avoid the formation of this calculus by diligently cleaning your teeth, but what's your cat to do?

Signs of Gingivitis in Cats

It can be difficult to know if your cat has developed gingivitis. Their eating habits can change, as the inflammation of their gums causes eating to be uncomfortable. This is often accompanied by drooling and their breath becoming foul. Their gums will typically be inflamed by this point, which can be confirmed with a visual inspection (assuming your cat is cooperative). This issue will not rectify itself, and your cat needs professional dental assistance. 

Professional Dental Assistance

Talk to your vet about a cat dental appointment. This may happen at the veterinary surgery, or you might be referred to a specialist. Since your cat won't be the most obliging of patients, they will be sedated so that an exhaustive assessment of their dental health can be performed. Scaling and polishing will be performed to remove plaque and dental calculus. Should any of your cat's teeth have deteriorated significantly, these may be extracted. This is more practical than reconstructing damaged teeth when it comes to cats.

To prevent a recurrence of gingivitis, you should begin to brush your cat's teeth several times per week. Ask the vet about the best product and frequency of cleanings. Your cat won't enjoy the experience, and the first few sessions won't be as efficient as you were hoping, but your cat will quickly get used to it. And it's a small price to pay for your cat to avoid the discomfort of gingivitis.