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How Can I Prevent Gingivitis in Cats?

Even young kittens should have their teeth cleaned regularly.
An adult cat.
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  • Written By: M. Gardner
  • Edited By: A. Joseph
  • Last Modified Date: 18 March 2014
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Pet owners can prevent gingivitis in cats by brushing their cat's teeth regularly and feeding their cat a quality diet. Routine visits to the veterinarian can help ensure the cat is free from dental problems, which can lead to mouth pain and tooth loss. The vet can also screen for diseases that sometimes accompany gingivitis in cats, including feline immunodeficiency virus and feline leukemia virus.

Gingivitis occurs when the cat's gums become inflamed. This might occur in the gum line around one tooth or might be widespread throughout the mouth. Symptoms include red gums, yellow teeth, bad breath, drooling, receding gum line and decreased appetite. If left unattended, gingivitis might lead to bacteria buildup that could cause organ failure. Prevention is key in avoiding expensive veterinary visits related to gingivitis.

Good cat oral hygiene begins with regular tooth brushing — at least every other day. This might be an uncommon practice among cat owners, but it is key to avoiding gingivitis in cats. Pet supply stores carry toothbrushes and finger brushes made for pets. Cats should be exposed only to toothpaste made specifically for pets. Cat treats might encourage the cat to be more cooperative with the tooth-brushing process.

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If possible, owners should help their cats become accustomed to tooth brushing at a young age. In the case of both kittens and adult cats, owners can introduce the practice slowly over a period of many days. First the owner might try handling the cat's mouth. After the cat becomes used to that, the owner should allow the cat to investigate a pet toothbrush and toothpaste. When the cat is comfortable with these items, the owner should try gently brushing the cat's teeth.

A cat who has had its teeth professionally cleaned might not need regular brushing. Instead, the vet may recommend applying a dental rinse that can be purchased at the pet store. A veterinarian might also recommend a combination of rinsing and brushing.

On the issue of a quality diet, there is much debate surrounding whether wet food or dry food is better for a cat's overall health. Studies have shown a significant correlation between a dry food diet and increased oral hygiene in both dogs and cats. Wet food tends to stick to a cat's teeth, and dry food helps remove plaque and food deposits, thereby preventing gingivitis in cats and dogs. Some pet food makers produce dry pet food specifically formulated to help keep cats' teeth clean.

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