What is gingivitis? Gingivitis is inflammation of the gum tissue that causes redness, swelling and bleeding. A common example is lymphocytic plasmacytic gingivitis stomatitis (LPGS), a painful inflammatory condition that can cause difficulty eating and excessive drooling. It can also contribute to tooth loss.
How does my cat get gingivitis? It occurs as a result of bacteria that grows on tooth surfaces and causes plaque that hardens and becomes tartar. The bacteria release destructive enzymes that attack the gums, causing gingivitis. Some diseases, such as trench mouth, can also cause gingivitis.
How do I know if my cat has gingivitis? Cats tend to mask pain, but you may notice that your cat is not eating as much or walks away from the food bowl. They may leave pieces of kibble around the food bowl. You may observe that your cat's breath emits a foul odor. A healthy cat’s gums are coral pink, but gums harmed by gingivitis are red or purple. When examining your cat's mouth, you may also notice that the gums are swollen and possibly, bleeding.
Schedule an appointment with your veterinarian for a complete physical and oral examination of your cat and to rule out other possible diseases. Your cat will need to be sedated in order for a veterinarian to perform a plaque dye test, do a complete periodontal probing and take a full-mouth set of X-rays. These procedures can reveal other serious conditions such as tooth root abscesses or oral cancers.
What can I do about? Once gingivitis surfaces, your cat will need to be sedated and undergo an thorough teeth scaling by a veterinarian. This procedure cleans and polishes the teeth above and below the gumline to stop the spread of gingivitis. Follow-up care is vital and your cat may need professional dental cleanings once or twice a year.
Is there anything I can do to prevent getting? Plaque control is the cornerstone of therapy. Brushing your cat’s teeth daily is the best at-home defense against gingivitis and other dental issues. Plaque left unchecked for more than 72 hours can harden and become tartar. Apply meat-flavored, enzymatic toothpaste on special-sized cat toothbrushes or thimble-like devices that fit over your index finger. Other options include chlorhexidine gluconate rinses and solutions that effectively get rid of plaque above the gum line. Dental care diets and treats are also available to maintain healthy gums and teeth.
Are there certain breeds that get more often? Abyssinians and Somalis top the list of cat breeds most prone to developing gingivitis, along with Burmese, Siamese, Persian, Himalayan and Tonkinese. However, this gum disease can occur in any cat of any breed, but tends to affect young and middle-aged cats.