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Feline Gingivitis

By David P. Lee

Plasmacytic-Lymphocytic Stomatitis is a chronic condition occurring in cats which causes severe gingivitis and tooth loss. This is a result of another disease. Feline Immunodeficiency and Feline Leukemia is found in some cats. Symptoms include extremely foul breath, excessive salivation and trouble eating. Generally, since this causes them mouth pain, they discontinue eating while rapidly loosing weight.

If the mouth is examined there will be extreme gingivitis around the back upper molars. The gums will be red and look raw. They may bleed easily. If not treated the gums will start to recede from the tooth as the root of the tooth becomes absorbed causing the teeth to fall out or break off. When biopsies of these areas were conducted they were found to contain lymphocytes and plasma cells, which is why this disease is so named. With the inflammation the chances of a bacterial infection are definitely higher than normal. These cells are in evidence whenever there is a chronic inflammation and result in secondary infections which can cause a bacterial infection in the blood stream. This is quite serious and can infect other organs such as the heart, kidneys, and liver.

Essential to beginning any treatment, a careful cleaning under anesthesia, while cleaning below the gum line with a long acting good quality disinfectant gel is vital. Temporary relief while keeping bacterial infection from worsening the gums is provided by the use of antibiotics. Although, this is not long-term answer, a variety of treatments has been tested such as anti-inflammatory therapy with cortisone and immunostimulants such as immunoregulin.

Removing the premolars and molars, is the only long-term treatment that seems to relieve the symptoms while giving the cat a return of good health. While attempting to get the cat back to its optimal health, there are various high calorie cat foods which are nutritional, available on the market, these products are soft while requiring little chewing. The nature of this disease discourages cats to eat, because of their pain. Their nutritional needs are crucial.

Prevention is the best alternative for avoiding chronic gingivitis, since response to treatment for this disease is exceedingly low. It is essential that upper respiratory infections in a household be controlled, since calicivirus seems to be a contributing factor for this disease. Vaccinations for this disease at 6 weeks, 9 weeks, and 12 weeks should be administered to kittens. Until this series of vaccinations are complete, a kitten should be kept away from other kittens and cats. Keep all cats up to date with their vaccinations for best results. Feline leukemia and FIV tests should be routinely done. Any cat showing a positive result to testing should be immediately removed and isolated from all other cats.

Two new products came on the market in 1997 that were designed to control and prevent tartar and gingivitis. TD, produced by Hills, is a dry food that was made to fight the build up of plaque and tartar. Chews, produced by Vrx pharmaceuticals, is a freeze dried fish food that has antibacterial enzymes to fight gingivitis and also provides abrasive cleaning action. Both products can be obtained through your veterinarian. They just may be the key to preventing feline chronic gingivitis thus saving your cat from losing their teeth and succumbing to this painful disease.

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