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Gingivitis in Cats

As with humans, dental problems can be very painful for your cat, yet, as many as 85% of cats over the age of three have some form of dental disease. Below, our Carrollton vets discuss the signs of dental disease in cats, along with information on diagnosis and treatment.

Gingivitis & Cats

Gingivitis is an inflammation of the gums (gingiva) that cover your cat's teeth. The disease can range from mild to severe, and in severe cases, cats with gingivitis may have difficulty eating and become extremely uncomfortable. To treat the condition, a tooth cleaning with anesthesia would be required. Plaque, a mixture of germs, debris, dead skin cells, mucus, and food, can build up on the teeth and contribute to this dental issue, just as it does in humans.

Signs of Cats Gingivitis

Are you wondering whether your cat may have gingivitis or other dental conditions? Some of the most common signs of gingivitis in cats are:

  • Difficulty eating or not eating at all
  • Difficulty picking up toys or food
  • Bad breath
  • Red or swollen gums, especially around the area of the inner cheek
  • Drooling
  • Calculi/tartar
  • Plaque build-up on the surface of the teeth

Causes of Gingivitis in Cats

The development of gingivitis in cats can result from a number of different conditions including: 

  • Autoimmune Diseases
  • Old age
  • Soft Food
  • Bad Dental Care
  • FeLV (Feline Leukemia Virus)
  • Crowded teeth

Diagnosis of Gingivitis in Cats

Cats are extremely adept at concealing their pain. This means that your cat may not show any signs of discomfort, even if they are experiencing severe oral pain. Even healthy, active cats can develop serious dental diseases. Bringing your cat in for an annual routine exam is critical for detecting dental disease, as a veterinarian can often detect signs of a condition while observing an animal and looking for the symptoms listed above.

How to Treat Cat Gingivitis

Gingivitis treatment for cats focuses on eliminating accumulated plaque and dental calculus, as well as treating or extracting destabilized and/or diseased teeth. To address any inflammatory dental disease, routine tooth cleanings and dental X-rays should be conducted under anesthetic.

For cats suffering from stomatitis to have a comfortable mouth, their teeth are frequently extracted by a veterinarian if it is called for.

The frequency of dental checkups will be determined by the degree of periodontal disease in your cat. If your adult cat's teeth are overcrowded, or if it has baby (deciduous) teeth, your veterinarian may recommend a tooth extraction. Your veterinarian will show you how to clean your cat's teeth, and you should schedule follow-up exams.

Maintaining Your Cat's Teeth

Pet supply stores sell cat-specific toothbrushes and toothpaste, which can help prevent gingivitis. Brushing should be introduced gradually and consistently so that cats get used to it.

Get Your Cat Familiar With Toothbrushes & Toothpaste

Place snacks on the counter near toothpaste and toothbrushes to help cats associate them with something positive. You can also give them a dab of toothpaste to lick off your finger until they become accustomed to it.

Get Your Cat Used To You Touching Their Mouth

Select a dental treat that your cat enjoys and apply it to their canine teeth. As they get used to it, gradually move it deeper into their mouth and onto their teeth. This helps them become accustomed to you touching their mouth, making it easier to introduce toothpaste.


Brushing your cat's teeth should be easier now that they're accustomed to the toothbrush, toothpaste, and your touch on their mouth. Brush the gum line for 15 to 30 seconds on the outside of the teeth before rewarding them with a treat.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Contact our Carrollton vets to book a dental appointment for your cat.

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Carroll County Animal Hospital is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Carrollton companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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