Oral health is one of the most undervalued measures in cat parenting. Take note that infections of the mouth can spread throughout the system and lead to more severe conditions if not treated instantly. Many cat parents don’t realize that a sudden change in a cat’s mouth or a bad odor coming from their cat’s mouth is a potential symptom of a disease, including gum disease or gingivitis. Gum disease, a chronic inflammation of the gums that worsens over time, can affect cats of all stripes. Cats are prone to this kind of disease and the reason why remains unknown. How do we ensure healthy gums for cats?
More about gingivitis and stomatitis:
As mentioned above, gum disease is a condition in which the gums around the teeth become inflamed, swollen, and painful. It is a result of plaque buildup on the teeth. If plaques are not removed regularly, they move deeper toward the place where the gingiva meets the base of the tooth. Inflammation is a result of plaques that reach the subgingival region, where a cat’s immune system may stick to these bacteria. Calculus or tartar buildup happens when plaque becomes hardened by absorbing minerals from both the saliva and the gum.
Another kind of gum disease is stomatitis. Stomatitis in cats is characterized almost the same as gingivitis, where the soft tissues in a cat’s mouth become irritated and inflamed. Its primary types include ulcerative stomatitis, a condition of gum tissue loss that is frequently accompanied by inflammation of the oral tissues. The other kind of stomatitis is the Oral Eosinophilic Granuloma, a growth that is noticeable near the cat’s mouth or the lips. The last type is Gingival Hyperplasia which occurs when the gum tissue grows over teeth.
Symptoms of gum disease are:
– Foul-smelling breath
– Bright red gums
– Bleeding from the nose or mouth
– Excessive Drooling
– Difficulty in eating
– Unusual grooming
– Appetite loss
– Chewing using only one side of the mouth
– Moving food around the mouth
– Mild swelling of the face, notably the cheek
– Missing or loose teeth
– Pale gum (can be due to dehydration)
These symptoms can also be a symptom of other diseases or a potential poisoning. Thus, it is advised to regularly visit your vet to see if there is disease buildup on your cat’s gums. It will also help you on how to keep healthy gums for cats.
Determine these signs by:
Smelling the breath of your feline is one notable way of knowing if the cat has gum disease. If you notice, a cat’s breath doesn’t have a strong smell, may it be good or bad, so pay attention to a foul breath coming from your cat’s mouth. Another way of knowing is by gently opening the cat’s mouth to see the color of their gums. Speak to your cat to set the mood and calm her when you do this process.
Once your cat is comfortable, gently tip the cat’s head back slightly toward their backside. Using your thumb or your index finger, gently open its mouth to examine the color of the gum, teeth, and throat to identify the potential disease your cat is carrying. If this disease already spread throughout the mouth, the vet will need to examine the cat during the physical exam under anesthesia to clearly scan the cat’s gum if there are lesions already. These lesions can be seen on the gums, roof of the mouth, back of the mouth, tongue, or lips. In some cases, the area through the back teeth is usually the most affected.
What the color of their gum means:
Potential risks to your cat’s health can be identified by frequently checking its gum. Keep in mind that the color of the skin in your cat’s mouth and on its gums will tell you more than you expected. If your feline is healthy, it should have a tinge of pink gum. White gum means blood loss or could be a sign of potential anemia. Yellowish gum could be a sign of organ issues, most especially liver. Purple or bluish gum means your cat is not taking enough oxygen resulting from some respiratory disease or poisoning. A seemingly normal pink gum that has stains of bright red could mean the cat is experiencing an illness due to high temperature like heatstroke. However, if the redness overlaps and surrounds the teeth, it’s a possible sign of dental problems.
Treatments for cat gum disease are:
Going to the vet after examining your cat’s gum and finding out that these signs will help lessen the risk of getting infected. If gum disease is left untreated, it may progress to stomatitis, a condition in which there are sores in the mouth. This condition will require all the cat’s teeth to be removed. In most cases, vets will prescribe an antiseptic that you can add to your cat’s drinking water. There are also antiseptic mouthwash and topical antibiotics that are available in the market. On some rare occasions, a prescription diet to reduce the accumulation of microbes, an organism that creates plaque and tartar, can help in treating this disease. There are also topical ointments that can be applied to reduce or prevent inflammation of the cat’s gums. The most important thing to remember is prevention.
Keep healthy gums for cats by:
– Doing basic oral hygiene just like humans
– Investing in oral products like cat toothbrushes and toothpaste. There are also water additives and tooth and gum wipes that are available in the market
– Brushing your cats’ teeth regularly to promote breath and gum health
– Adding greens to their diet and training them to chew them. Chewing greens is an organic way of cleaning their teeth and gums.
– Applying calendula, a homeopathic remedy, can prevent gum disease
– Boosting their immune system with Vitamin C
– Reducing inflammation and swelling of the gums by giving them CoQ10
– Maintaining good nutrition by adding supplements and additives to their food or drinking water.