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Gingivitis in Cats: Signs, Treatment and Prevention

Gingivitis in Cats: Signs, Treatment and Prevention

Dental problems can be extremely painful for cats, despite their ability to hide discomfort. As many as 85% of cats over the age of three have dental disease and our Laguna Woods vets share signs, causes, and more.

What is gingivitis in cats?

Gingivitis is inflammation of the gums (gingiva) that surround the teeth. The disease can range from moderate to severe, and in extreme cases, cats with gingivitis may have problems eating and experience extreme pain and discomfort.

To remedy the condition, a tooth cleaning under anesthesia would be required. Just like humans, plaque - a buildup of germs, debris, dead skin cells, mucus, and food - can accumulate on the teeth and contribute to this dental issue.

Signs of Gingivitis in Cats

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

Common causes of gingivitis in cats include:

  • Autoimmune diseases
  • Aging
  • Diet of only soft or wet canned food
  • Improper dental care
  • FeLV (Feline Leukemia Virus)
  • Crowded teeth

Diagnosis of Gingivitis in Cats

As every worried cat owner knows, cats are extremely skilled at hiding pain, and therefore might not show any signs of discomfort even if they are in severe oral pain. Even cats who are eating normally and are active can have significant dental disease. Bringing your cat in for their annual routine exam is essential to the detection of dental disease, as a vet is often able to identify signs of conditions while observing an animal and checking for symptoms listed above.

Treatment for Cats with Gingivitis

Gingivitis treatment focuses on eliminating accumulated plaque and dental calculus and treating or extracting destabilized and/or diseased teeth. To address any inflammatory dental disease, routine tooth cleanings and dental X-rays should be conducted by a professional vet.

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 your cat's dental checkups will be impacted by the severity of their periodontal disease. If your adult cat's teeth are overcrowded, or if they've retained baby (deciduous) teeth, your veterinarian may recommend a tooth extraction. Your veterinarian will show you how to clean your cat's teeth, and schedule follow-up exams.

Maintaining Your Cat's Teeth

Cat-specific toothbrushes and toothpaste are available at pet supply stores and can help avoid gingivitis. Brushing should be introduced gradually and consistently so that cats become accustomed to it. Most importantly, have patience!

Introduce your cat to toothbrushes and toothpaste

Leave some of their favorite snacks near the toothpaste and toothbrush, so your cat can begin associating something positive with them. You can also place a dab of cat toothpaste for them to lick off your finger so they get accustomed to it.

Get your cat used to hands near their mouth

Choose a dental treat your cat enjoys and place it on their canine teeth. As they become accustomed to it, start placing it further into their mouth, on their teeth. This gets them used to you touching their mouth and makes it easier for you to introduce cat toothpaste.


Once your cat adjusts to their toothbrush, toothpaste, and you touching their mouth and teeth, it should be easier to care for their teeth. Brush along the gum line for about 15 to 30 seconds (only on the outside of the teeth), and reward them with a tasty dental treat afterward.

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.

Worried your cat is experiencing oral health problems? Contact our Laguna Woods vets today for a consultation and possible treatment options.

New Patients Welcome

Laguna Hills Animal Hospital is welcoming new patients! Our vets are friendly, experienced, and passionate about caring for the health of the cats and dogs in Laguna Woods. Contact us today to schedule your pet's first appointment.

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