Have you ever watched your cat yawn? It’s contagious and usually makes me yawn too. Before our respective yawns are finished, I always try to have a good look in my cat’s mouth. There are other ways to ‘have-a-look’ but this is the easiest. Holding my cat’s head and lifting the lip is another great way to examine the teeth and gums but not often do my cats like this. However we look, it is important to ‘have-a-look’ at least once a month. Examining our cat’s mouths allows us to detect problems early so these problems can be corrected before pain ensures.
Adult cat’s mouths have 30 teeth all surrounded by nice healthy pink gums. The key word is “pink”. This gum tissue supplies nourishment via blood vessels to the bone that hold the teeth. The gums provide a barrier to bacteria and the gums, through their color, give us an important insight to the health of the mouth. Color changes of the gums need to be watched closely and any redness of the gums can be an indication of Oral Inflammation or gingivitis.
Gingivitis can be noticed when the gum tissue becomes swollen, inflamed and red. This redness causes discomfort which can range from mild irritation to severe pain. This redness is always an indication of a painful mouth. When caught early the cause of the redness, usually plaque and tartar built up on the teeth, can be fixed and the gums will go back to their healthy pink color. If the gingivitis is allowed to proceed, the inflammation spreads to the bone and the structures holding the teeth in place. The only way to correct this redness and relieve severe pain, is to remove the diseased teeth.
So, next time your cat yawns which will entice you to yawn, ‘have-a-look’ in his mouth. If there is red gums, make an appointment to ensure your cat is not in pain, if there is no redness then enjoy the boding moment of a good yawn followed by a nice cuddle.