Gum disease in Maine Coon cats occurs due to inflammation of the lining of the gums, and the overall structure that holds the tooth together. This typically occurs due to a lack of dental routine in a Maine Coon cat’s life, and over time, the teeth and gums become damaged.
You can learn the basics of the Maine Coon kitten teething process in one of my earlier blogs to get them off to the best start for healthy gums and teeth.
Gum disease in cats predominantly takes three forms: gingivitis, periodontitis, and tooth resorption.
This blog will explore the types of gum disease in Maine Coon cats, and the treatments available to combat this.
Gum Disease In Maine Coon Cats
Gum disease in Maine Coon cats occurs due to a build-up of plaque and tartar which leads to inflammation. This inflammation is what progresses to gingivitis, periodontitis and tooth resorption.
Maine Coon cats are more likely to develop gum disease if there is a lack of dental care routine.
Dental disease in cats can lead to tooth decay and even loss as well as other serious health complications. Sometimes other factors such as genetic predisposition and medical conditions, can increase the risk of gum disease in cats.
A dental care routine that involves brushing your Maine Coon cat’s teeth daily, or at least using alternatives such as dental wipes and gels is the best route to preventing feline gum disease.
Let’s look at gum disease in Maine Coon cats in more detail.
What Is Gingivitus in Maine Coon Cats?
Gingivitis in Maine Coon cats occurs due to inflammation of the gums – known as the gingiva. The gingiva is the soft tissue surrounding a cat’s teeth.
Gingivitis is the first stage of gum disease in cats and occurs as a result of plaque and tartar build-up. The accumulation of plaque and tartar contains bacteria, food particles and saliva, which is a breeding ground for dental infection.
Over time, this mineralises and hardens to form gingivitis, and if not treated, leads to periodontitis, a more serious form of gum disease in Maine Coon cats.
What are the signs of Gingivitis in Maine Coon Cats?
It’s often helpful to familiarise yourself with the common signs and symptoms of gingivitis in Maine Coon cats so that you can take action early and prevent serious health issues in the future.
So what can you look out for?
- Swelling of the gums.
- Redness of the gums.
- Bleeding from gums – when brushing, eating and chewing.
- Increased salivation.
- Halitosis, or bad breath.
- Lack of appetite.
- Change in behaviour such as irritability and aggression.
- Pawing at mouth or face.
- Signs of oral discomfort.
Cat Gingivitis Treatment
Fortunately, there are several cat gingivitis treatments, and if spotted early, they can successfully treat your Maine Coon’s teeth.
- Professional dental cleaning – This is performed by a veterinarian, under anaesthesia so they can do their best when cleaning the teeth and gums of your Maine Coon cat. During a professional teeth cleaning procedure, any plaque and tartar build-up is removed. A blood test can rule out any allergic reactions to anaesthesia.
- Antibiotics – These can be prescribed by a veterinarian, to control the inflammation caused by the bacteria spread. A cat gingivitis treatment such as antibiotics can help with pain management if successful in reducing bacteria spread and inflammation.
- A dental routine at home – In addition to professional teeth cleaning for your cat, you can do a lot at home yourself. There are cat-specific toothbrushes and toothpastes on the market, that contain enzymes that protect their teeth. Do not use a human toothbrush or toothpaste as these are not designed for them, and can be toxic! Brushing your Maine Coon cat’s teeth on a daily basis is recommended for healthy cat teeth.
- Dental diets and treats – Dental diets for cats can be prescribed by a veterinarian. There are also treats available that are made with a specific texture, and dental ingredients to help break down plaque. These should be used in addition to a regular teeth-brushing routine.
- Regular dental check-ups – Taking your cat to the veterinary clinic regularly for a dental check-up is the best way to monitor signs of cat tooth decay and gingivitis.
What is Periodontitis in Maine Coon Cats?
Periodontitis is the second stage of gum disease in Maine Coon cats. When gingivitis is not controlled, periodontitis is what follows, and unfortunately cannot be reversed.
Periodontitis occurs when the infection in a cat’s gums – caused by plaque and tartar build-up – progresses deeper, causing extreme inflammation and an environment for bacteria to thrive. This infection affects the tissues that support a cat’s teeth and when these tissues are weakened as a result of advanced-stage gum disease, the underlying gums and bones are weakened, including the periodontal ligaments, and jawbone.
If left untreated, periodontitis in Maine Coon cats can lead to significant dental issues, including cat tooth decay and tooth loss.
What Are The Signs Of Periodontitis In Maine Coon Cats?
It is helpful to look out for the signs of periodontitis in your Maine Coon cat, as often these look may look like stage 1 gingivitis, whereas in many cases, it might have progressed to peritonitis.
Some of the signs your cat might be suffering from periodontitis include:
- The recession of the gingiva (gums).
- Exposure showing the rooth tooth surface.
- Loose teeth.
- Halitosis (bad breath in cats).
- Inflamed gums that are red in colour.
- Bleeding gums.
- Reduced appetite or refusal to eat.
- Excess drooling.
- Swelling in the mouth.
- Abscesses in the mouth.
Periodontitis Treatments In Maine Coon Cats
For periodontitis treatments in Maine Coon cats, your veterinarian may recommend one of several options.
X-ray Cat’s Head And Jaw
With gingivitis progressing to periodontitis, your veterinarian may suggest an x-ray to properly evaluate the scale of damage in your Maine Coon’s mouth. An x-ray would involve examining their head and jaw area. This would require your cat to go under anaesthesia. In this case, a blood test before would ascertain if your Maine Coon has any allergic reactions to the anaesthesia.
Descale and Polish
If periodontitis isn’t as advanced, then plaque and tartar build-up can be removed by scaling and polishing your Maine Coon’s teeth. During this procedure, your cat would need to be under general anaesthesia, and an ultrasonic instrument would be used to remove the build-up from its teeth. This is then followed by a polish, much like we would get at a dentist. The benefit of polishing your cat’s teeth is that it smooths away rough patches on the teeth, which prevents plaque from building up so easily.
If periodontitis has advanced to the stage that it is causing wobbly teeth in your Maine Coon cat, then often the best option is tooth extraction. Again, your cat would require general anesthesia, but the good news is, they are likely to go home the same day. They will generally recover quickly, and pain can be managed through medication. During your cat’s recovery from tooth extraction, the gum naturally heals over the area of tooth extraction, and any stitches that were in place, dissolve naturally.
Root Canal Treatment
Root canal treatment on a Maine Coon cat is less invasive than a tooth extraction. The procedure involves removing any infected pulp, disinfecting the canal area, filling it with a dental filling, and finishing a composite restoration.
It can remove the source of pain and inflammation, and provide a better quality of life for your cat. If this option is available, it is often the preferred one. Root canal treatment can save the structure of your cat’s tooth whereas an extraction involves removing that structure.
Tooth Resorption In Maine Coon Cats
Tooth resorption in Maine Coon cats is perhaps the lesser known of gum diseases, but a serious condition nonetheless.
If tooth resorption has occurred in your Maine Coon cat’s teeth, it means the structure has broken down. This starts within the enamel and gum line. The condition then absorbs the structures that form the tooth, from the inside out, gradually affecting other parts of the tooth. Over time, the tooth disappears, with only a slight bump on the gums remaining.
If you notice such a bump in your Maine Coon cat’s mouth, that resembles a cavity, this is more than likely the result of tooth absorption. The reason for this is that cavities are rare in cats.
Signs Of Tooth Resorption In Maine Coon Cats
With the different stages of gum disease in Maine Coon cats, it can be difficult to spot all the signs and know what is what.
When it comes to tooth resorption in Maine Coon cats, here are some signs to look out for.
- Pink defect where the tooth meets the gum.
- Tendency to eat food as quickly as possible, and often on one side of the mouth.
- Reluctance to eat as it may be too painful.
- Appear irritable, often suggesting a cat’s in pain.
- Trembling of the jaw whenever an object touches the affected tooth.
- Oral bleeding, and salivation at the mouth.
Treatment Of Tooth Resorption In Maine Coon Cats
If your veterinarian suspects that your Maine Coon has been affected by tooth resorption, often an intraoral radiograph will be required. This should assess whether your cat has type 1 or type 2 tooth resorption.
If your Maine Coon cat has type 1 tooth resorption, the root and tooth are extracted whereas type 2 tooth resorption can be treated with a crown amputation which only removes the diseased part of the tooth.
During this procedure, your cat will require anaesthesia but they should wake up comfortably and not in too much discomfort.
What Is An Intraoral Radiograph In Cats?
If a veterinarian refers to an intraoral radiograph when referring to your Maine Coon cat, it means a type of dental x-ray taken from inside the cavity of your cat’s tooth. Dental X-ray film is placed inside your cat’s mouth, which enables your veterinarian to capture detailed shots of your cat’s jawbones and teeth, roots and surrounding structure.
Intraoral X-rays are perhaps one of the most useful diagnostic solutions to identifying potential gum disease in cats to which other oral assessments are restricted to an extent. An intraoral X-ray can identify the varying stages of gum disease such as gingivitis, periodontists, stomatitis, and tooth resorption in cats. It can also identify signs of retained deciduous teeth and other dental problems.
What Is Gingivostomatitis In Maine Coon Cats?
Gingivostomatitis refers to the two conditions ‘gingivitis’ and ‘stomatitis’ which can affect Maine Coon cats. Gingivitis is the swelling of the gingiva (gums) in a cat and is the earliest stage of gum disease. Stomatitis is the term used to refer to a more generalised but severe inflammation of the mouth areas in a cat is affected. Stomatitis in cats can be painful, and signs often include crying out when eating, excessive drooling at the mouth, and refusal to eat causing weight loss.
Untreated Gum Disease In Maine Coon Cats
Healthy cat teeth ensure a healthy cat, both mind and body. However, when gum disease in cats is left untreated, it can lead to a myriad of complications which can severely impact your Maine Coon cat’s oral health and quality of life.
The following conditions can occur if gum disease is left untreated in cats.
When gum disease, such as periodontitis has taken over your cat’s mouth, it damages the supporting structure which includes their teeth, gums, periodontal ligament and jawbone. This causes extremely weak teeth, which leads to complete tooth loss.
When gum disease in cats is left untreated, infections are highly likely. These infections can cause all sorts of discomfort in your cat’s mouth, including inflammation and bleeding. This can make it difficult for your cat to eat and chew, and often they might cry out in pain when eating.
Similar to what can occur in humans, when gum disease in cats progresses, it can cause tooth root abscesses. These are individual pockets of infections that harbour around the root of a cat’s tooth. This can cause extreme pain and swelling in your cat if affected.
When gum disease is left untreated in cats, it can cause permanent jawbone damage to the part of the jawbone that supports the teeth. With jawbone damage comes bone density loss, a weaker jawbone and the potential for fractures.
Gum disease in cats can lead to a state of chronic inflammation that not only affects the mouth area but the body in general. This is also similar to humans, in that if we don’t look after our oral health, inflammation can occur which can lead to inflammation in other parts of our body. If suspect your cat is affected by chronic inflammation, it’s best to see a veterinarian as it is known to have a direct link to other health conditions such as heart and kidney disease and respiratory infections.
The Importance Of Healthy Cat Teeth
Healthy cat teeth are essential for the overall well-being of our Maine Coon companions. When you introduce a daily dental routine that focuses on ensuring healthy teeth in your Maine Coon cat, you are setting them up for success for the following reasons:
- They’ll be able to chew on their food and kibble without any pain or discomfort.
- You will be preventing cat gum disease from developing as they’ll have healthy cat teeth.
- Tooth loss is prevented. This enables your cat to continue to eat, groom and play without any issues.
- Oral infections such as gum inflammation and abscesses are minimised which can cause a great deal of discomfort in cats.
- Prevention of health conditions that are associated with cat gum diseases, such as heart and kidney disease.
- A daily dental routine ensures minty fresh breath in cats, which keeps halitosis away.
If you can implement a daily dental routine for your Maine Coon kitten or cat, they will go on to having healthy teeth. Scheduling a regular veterinarian check-up as required also allows for further check-ups and professional cleanings where required to ensure the best possible oral health in your Maine Coon cat.