Gum Disease in Cats: Discover Effective Treatment Techniques

Tooth troubles are very common in cats, both young and old. Over time, plaque and tartar can build up and cause gum disease. Even though cats might eat fine, problems can happen underneath where you can’t see.

Gum disease likes to sneak up on cats quietly. Your furry friend’s teeth might look bright, but gunk can gather below. Before trouble gets too bad, it’s time to clean away the plaque. This guide will show you easy ways to take care of your cat’s teeth and gums.

If your cat winces eating or playing, the time to act is now. Following these tips can get your cat’s mouth feeling fantastic again. 

What Is Gum Disease in Cats?

Gum disease, also called periodontal disease, affects the dental health of many cats. It causes inflammation in the tissues that support the teeth. Gum disease is one of the most prevalent health issues for felines.

When food debris and bacteria collect along a cat’s gums, plaque starts to form. Combined with saliva and minerals, this plaque transforms into tartar. Tartar irritates the gums, making them red and swollen near the teeth – this early stage is called gingivitis.

Over time, tartar builds up under the gums. It separates the tissues from the teeth, creating pockets where bacteria thrive. This leads to permanent periodontal disease. The disease causes bone loss and tissue destruction in the gaps between the gum and the tooth.

According to research from the Royal Veterinary College, gum disease affects 15.23% of over one million cats studied in the UK. General dental issues affected 9.23%. The study assessed health patterns in a random sample of 18,249 cats, representing the whole UK pet cat population of 1,255,130. 

The most common pure breeds in Britain were British Shorthair at 3.01%, Ragdoll at 1.82%, and Bengal at 1.22%. Other prevalent pedigreed cats included Maine Coon, Persian, and Siamese.

Types of Gum Diseases in Cats

Gum disease in cats is classified into four stages of periodontal disease based on oral examinations and dental X-rays. These stages help veterinarians determine the appropriate treatment for a cat’s condition.

The first stage is gingivitis. This mild form involves inflammation of the gingiva or gums, but there is no loss of attachment to the underlying bone structure. Gingivitis presents as redness and swelling of the gums alone.

Early periodontitis is considered stage two. At this point, up to 25% of the attachment fibers that anchor the tooth to the gum have become detached. Stage three is moderate periodontitis, where 25-50% of the ligament is no longer attached.

The most advanced stage is classified as severe periodontitis. Over half of the attachment fibers have separated from the tooth, resulting in significant destruction. The bacterial infection can then tunnel into tooth roots, eroding dental structures. This leads to tooth resorption and severe, painful damage.

All stages of periodontal disease can cause gums to bleed. Veterinarians determine the best course of treatment depending on which phase a cat’s mouth presents in through examinations and X-rays. This staging guides decisions around surgical interventions or additional therapies.

Treating Gum Disease in Cats

The appropriate treatment for a cat’s gum disease depends on how severe the condition has become. Treatments can range from preventative oral care methods to tooth extractions.

For early-stage gum disease, preventive care is key to stopping the condition from worsening. Daily brushing of the cat’s teeth with a veterinarian-recommended feline toothpaste is important. In addition to a prescription fluoride treatment, thorough teeth cleaning from your veterinarian may be beneficial as well. 

For instance, PetRx says you can use Chlorhexidine Rinse, an orange-flavored, palatable antimicrobial formula aimed at combating the bacteria responsible for gum disease in your pet’s mouth.

For moderate gum disease (stages two and three), deeper cleanings between the teeth and gums are necessary to remove tartar buildup and reverse damage caused by bacteria. Your veterinarian may apply antibiotic gels during cleanings to help regenerate gum tissues.

Advanced gum disease is more difficult to reverse due to extensive damage. However, deep cleanings combined with root canals, bone grafts, or other surgical procedures aim to prevent further deterioration. Surgery allowing more direct access to gum lines and tooth roots may be needed in some cases.

Tooth extractions may be the only option for loose, broken, or dying teeth caused by severe gum disease. Extracting problematic teeth can help slow or reverse disease progression in other areas of the mouth. With veterinary guidance, appropriate treatment tailored to the individual cat’s needs aims to alleviate pain and dental issues related to gum disease.

Post-Procedure Care and Prognosis

  1. Follow-up Treatment

Follow-up treatment for periodontal disease in cats consists mostly of maintaining good oral care and routine dental checks. Dental procedures are generally recommended every six to twelve months, depending on how quickly tartar develops in the cat’s mouth.

  1. Recovery

Recovery from a dental procedure often requires a recovery collar to prevent the cat from pawing or scratching the mouth. Some cats need a soft diet (canned food or dental diet) and antibiotics/pain medication as part of the recovery plan.

  1. Prognosis

A cat’s prognosis depends on the severity of the gum disease. Early diagnosis, treatment, and therapy help minimize adverse effects.

  1. Dental Cleaning Considerations

When possible, have dental cleanings performed in the veterinary clinic. Select a vet who can conduct dental X-rays to examine oral health thoroughly. Professional dental cleanings typically cost $100-$400 but may be over $1000, depending on the work needed. Tooth extractions (about $50 each) and additional procedures increase costs. Intravenous fluids and medications also factor into expenses.

Gum disease in cats is widespread but preventable with proper oral health care. Owners are responsible for monitoring for issues and seeking treatment early to avoid pain and quality of life impacts down the road. Education is key to winning the fight against this all-too-common condition.

While gum disease progresses in stages, it only takes a single cleaning or pill to be neglected before damage is done. Consistency is vital. We must care for our pets’ dental needs with the same dedication they show us through unconditional affection. Their smiles depend on our commitment to keeping them healthy.

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