What is Gum Disease?
The inflammation caused by the bacteria does more than cause the teeth and gums to separate. The related infection can cause damage to the heart, liver, and kidneys. The infection occurs when the bacteria flows through the blood and spreads throughout the body. It is vital to treat the gum disease before it leads to other health problems for your furry friend.
Periodontal disease is a gum disease that is common among cats. When plaque formed from saliva and bacteria inside the mouth is left untreated, it turns into a yellow layer known as tartar. The bacteria releases toxins below the gum line, that causes an inflammation of the gums known as gingivitis. The gums start to weaken and cannot support the teeth. If left untreated, this condition will cause a separation of the teeth and gums. The condition cannot be reversed once the teeth separate from the gums, and the separation results in loss of teeth.
Symptoms of Gum Disease in Cats
It is vital to contact your veterinarian the minute you notice any signs of gum disease so you can take your cat to the veterinarian before the problem becomes worse. Your cat may display the following symptoms in the early or late stages of gum disease:
- Foul breath
- Nasal discharge
- Excessive drooling
- Difficulty chewing
- Loss of appetite
- Pawing at mouth
- Swelling of face
- Redness on gums
- Bleeding gums
- Receding gums
- Yellow on teeth
- Pus near teeth
- Loss of teeth
There are four stages of gum disease, and the cases range from mild to severe:
- Stage 1: Shows the signs of gingivitis, such as tartar, swelling and red gums. The tooth and gum do not separate.
- Stage 2: The gums are swollen and painful, and tooth crowns are becoming weak.
- Stage 3: Plaque has accumulated under the gum line, and it is now affecting the tooth or teeth. The teeth and gums are starting to separate.
- Stage 4: The tartar has accumulated and caused the gums to recede. The roots are exposed and the teeth must be extracted.
Causes of Gum Disease in Cats
The main cause of gum disease in cats is inadequate oral hygiene. Cats cannot brush and floss their own teeth to remove plaque and tartar.
Food, bacteria, and saliva create plaque inside a cat’s mouth, which builds up under the gum line and turns into tartar. This condition eventually causes a separation of the teeth and gums. What starts as gingivitis can turn into severe periodontal disease if you do not take care of the teeth.
Diagnosis of Gum Disease in Cats
The symptoms of gum disease are a sign that you need to take your cat to the veterinarian. Your veterinarian will be able to diagnose and evaluate the severity of the gum disease.
Your veterinarian will give your cat an examination of the mouth to confirm the gum disease. The examination includes looking for clinical signs, such as bad breath, red or bleeding gums and accumulated tartar.
Your cat will need to go under anesthesia so your veterinarian can determine the severity of the disease. The disease is usually found below the gum line, and your veterinarian needs to check this area without upsetting your cat. Your veterinarian will use a dental probe to check the attachment around each tooth. Expect your veterinarian to order dental x-rays to evaluate the bone loss, gum line and other dental problems.
Taking your cat to the veterinarian during the early stages of gum disease can save their teeth and gums from separation.
Treatment of Gum Disease in Cats
The treatment depends on the severity of the gum disease, and it can range from preventive care to extraction.
Treatment for Early Stages
You can prevent the disease from progressing if it is still in the early stages. The first step of preventive care is brushing the cat’s teeth with a toothpaste designed for cats. Your veterinarian will also order a prescription fluoride and professional cleaning for your furry friend.
Treatment for Stages Two and Three
It is necessary to clean the space between the teeth and gums when the disease hits the middle stages. It helps to remove the tartar and reverse the damage caused by the bacteria. Your veterinarian may also apply an antibiotic gel to help regenerate the tissues.
Treatment for Advanced Stages
It is difficult to reverse the damage once the disease reaches the advanced stage. However, procedures such as a deep cleaning, root canal and bone replacement may prevent further damage. There is a chance your cat will have to undergo surgery so your veterinarian can reach the gum line and roots.
Your cat may need to have the tooth extracted if it is loose, broken or dying. The extraction makes it possible to slow down or reverse the damage from the gum disease.
Recovery of Gum Disease in Cats
You should always schedule a follow-up appointment once the gum disease has been treated. Your veterinarian will make sure your pet is healing and the disease has not progressed.
You may need to switch to soft and wet food if any teeth were extracted. Your veterinarian may also prescribe an antibiotic while your cat is recovering.
Diagnosing and treating gum disease in the early stage is the best way to prevent it from progressing. Failure to treat the disease early can lead to discomfort, pain and missing teeth for your cat.
Gum Disease Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals
Indoor cat, male, around 11 years old.
Went in to vets with extreme drooling for a gingivitus diagnosis. Given pain medication and scheduled dental work. Same night cat has a small seizure (less than 1 minute, inc run in circles, few seconds of shakes / hyperventalating, then yowling, then fine). Vets do blood work and it came back with high liver enzymes. Given diazepan for if it gets worse, with idea to still go ahead with dental. Had a seizure last night, not long enough for tranquiliser. Today his mouth has swelled on one side enough that his teeth have cut through his lips. Seems fine in himself, still eating food (and stealing the other cats crunchy food), though is a little clingy.
Planning to sort out referal to have a MRI tomorrow when vets reopens.
Would like possible second opinion what it could be. Brain related, teeth, infection, etc?
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Hi my cat is 17 years old and she's not eating food, and she stopped drinking water has'nt drank that much today, has'nt gone poop since 12/31/17 and i think she is having pain in her gums because of her teeth
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How quickly should I take my cat to the vet? It's been about a week
If you are in a location where your Veterinarian is currently open and you have time, visit your Veterinarian today; otherwise it would probably wait until Monday morning as long as there is no signs of pain, discomfort, lack of appetite, lack of thirst, no fever, no bleeding from the gums or anything else worrying. I would recommend going as soon as possible to your Veterinarian as in a cat Dusty’s age, infections can really take hold. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM
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