Monday, December 17, 2007

Cat Gum Disease

Gum disease is periodontal disease to use long words. "Periodontal" means relating to the gums and bone supporting and surrounding the teeth.

I've seen this a lot in cats. My cat, Binnie has really good teeth and gums, however, for a cat of her age (about 14+ years). This is probably due to her having a diet of biscuits, fish and good wet cat food and being a true blue Moggie (extremely hardy stock). Every time she yawns I look inside mouth :). She looks fine at the moment.

A lot of modern cat food does not replicate the kind of teeth cleaning properties of food caught in the wild.

Gum disease is the most common form of dental disease affecting 80-90% of the feline population. Of course humans have exactly the same problem. The disease is caused by the build up of plaque around the tooth. Plaque is a mixture of food debris, salivary proteins and bacteria.

The way it is controlled in humans is to either or both: use a mouth wash or go to a dental hygienist who scraps at your gums and teeth 'til they bleed. They say brush under the gums as this is where it is formed. I find mouthwash by the best way to control plaque build up. Dentists don't like mouthwash in my view because it means less business. Is there a mouth wash for cats?

Yes, there is in the States at least. CET Oral Hygiene Rinse 8oz. There is also CET chews which does a similar job.

In the UK you've got products like Logic Oral Hygiene Gel: Enzymatic Dog & Cat Toothpaste. These are examples. I am sure there are more.

The plaque causes the gums to become inflamed. This mainly happens on the outside surface of the gums (nearest the cheeks). Minerals from the saliva stick on the plaque and harden it and the cycle continues.

The plaque pushes the gum from the tooth leaving it open to infection. When the tooth becomes infected it can spread to the bone and the supporting bone will be damaged and the tooth loosened.

Oriental Shorthair cats have a predisposition to it, it appears. See also bad breath in cats.


It is near impossible (unless trained over time) in my experience to use a toothbrush on a cats teeth so you may have to have a vet deal with this under general anesthetic to get the teeth in good condition (if this is necessary - your vet will say) and then practice preventative processes. The best way is to clean her teeth, failing which use the kind of products mentioned above.

Regular use has a dramatically beneficial effect on you cat's oral hygiene.

Photo reproduced under CC copyright mikeandanna

1 comment:

fisfar said...

My cat Bogie is aproximately 18 years old. He has become thin and acts like he is dieing. His mouth and gums have black tar black stuff growing on the gums. What is this?

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