When Red Gums can be Life Threatening for Pets by Dr. Kerr

In a previous blog I talked about how infected gums become red and sore and how by examining your cat’s mouth gingivitis can be noticed and corrected. Some cats go way beyond gingivitis and the redness in their gums can be life threatening.

To recap from a previous post, plaque is deposited every day on our teeth and our cats’ teeth. This plaque contains bacteria and overtime this bacteria laden plaque causes redness of the gums, gingivitis, periodontal disease and the loss of teeth. All this is sore for cats. Some cats react much more strongly to the daily deposition of plaque by having severely inflamed, fire-engine-red supremely painful gums. This pain can be so intense and affect so much of the mouth that cats will stop eating, drool all the time and really resent any touching of the face and mouth. When the disease progresses to this point, it is called Stomatitis or inflammation of the whole mouth.

We as veterinarians are not exactly sure why some cats get stomatitis. It is thought the severely inflamed gums may be a form of allergy which is made worse by the bacteria in the plaque.  The big problem is no matter how diligent we are in brushing our cats’ teeth, those that are overly sensitive react to even the smallest amount left behind. Medications can be used to control the infection and subdue the inflammation and pain but there is no medical treatment available to correct the problem.

This brings us to how we help these poor little kitties with terribly sore mouths. The approach is three pronged. First we control pain and inflammation with medications, then we control the infection  using antibiotics. The definitive treatment though, is prevention of ANY plaque adhering to the teeth. The only way to ensure this happens to the degree that are feline friend needs is to surgically remove ALL the teeth. No teeth, no place for the plaque to stick.

Yes this is drastic and yes cats can eat when they have no teeth. As drastic as this treatment is it works. Of all the cats I have seen with stomatitis the ones  who have done the best and are the most comfortable are the ones who no longer have teeth.

Stomatitis is a painful, horrible disease. If your kitty is having trouble eating, has smelly breath or is drooling, please have him examined so if stomatitis is present, treatment can be done to make your kitty pain free.