Gum disease is a common medical issue for cats older than 2 years. About 3/4 of cats 5 years or older are in need of dental care, according to the American Veterinary Dental Society. Symptoms of feline gum disease include drooling, bad breath, not eating well, weight loss and changes in grooming habits. Feline gum disease can range from mild gingivitis to your cat's entire mouth becoming inflamed. Treatments for feline gum disease depend upon the severity of your cat's condition and can range from a dental cleaning to teeth extractions.
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Gingivitis is the earliest stage of feline gum disease. Gingivitis causes your cat's gums to be mildly inflamed. The veterinarian will do a dental cleaning while your cat is under general anaesthesia and send him home with an anti-inflammatory medication. Once the veterinarian cleans the plaque from your cat's teeth during his dental, the plaque must be removed daily to ensure your cat doesn't have another bout of gingivitis. Adult cats are not generally cooperative with having their teeth brushed. Foods or chews that provide plaque removal are usually prescribed to accomplish this.
If left untreated, gingivitis will advance to periodontitis, meaning the ligaments and bones attaching the tooth to the gum are irreversibly damaged. Periodontal disease may affect only one of your cat's teeth or several of her teeth. The aim of treatment is preventing other sites in your cat's mouth from being affected by periodontitis. In addition to a dental cleaning, the veterinarian may remove any of your cat's teeth that have lost attachment to the gum. If left untreated, periodontal disease can cause pain, abscesses, tooth loss and infection of your cat's vital organs.
According to veterinary dentist Dr. Robert Ulbricht, stomatitis occurs when your cat's entire mouth becomes inflamed. "When the disease reaches this stage, it is very painful," Dr. Ulbricht said. "Most cats have trouble eating or stop eating all together." Symptoms include excessive salivation, bad breath and weight loss. At this stage, all of your cat's teeth from the canines back may be removed. If your cat has stomatitis, your veterinarian is likely going to recommend a complete work-up to ensure there are no underlying causes of the dental problems. This will likely include an FIV and feline leukaemia test.
External Root Resorption
External root resorption is another common cat gum disease. According to board certified veterinary dentist Dr. Stephen Jugia, lesions associated with the disease are seen in 1 in 4 cats older than 5 years. In this disease, the hard tissues of the tooth's root are destroyed. The disease progresses until the tooth fractures and a cavity forms. The aim of treatment is to relieve your cat's pain and prevent the disease from progressing. Treatment is likely to involve removing the damaged teeth.
As with most any health disorder, veterinary dentists tell pet guardians that prevention is the best treatment when dealing with feline gum disease. If you have a kitten, begin teaching her to allow you to brush her teeth. An adult cat who doesn't get this training as a baby is unlikely to allow this dental care. In the case of an adult who will not allow you to brush his teeth, talk to your veterinarian about recommending a diet that promotes dental health. Include a dental exam in your cat's yearly check-up.
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