Can tartar and gingivitis in cats be reversed with brushing alone?
Original Question: I asked my vet about my cats teeth and he said doesn’t need any treatment and to just apply toothpaste which he gave me. My cat doesn’t let me brush her teeth, what else can I use as brush and based on the photo is it tartar or plaque? Does she have gingivitis? - Selena
Thanks for your question.
I will respectfully disagree with your veterinarian. There is clear dental disease occurring here and your picture shows many indications of this.
The lower back molar is almost 100% covered in tartar. There is most certainly gingivitis as you can easily see the red line running along the base of each tooth where it meets the gum. This is inflammation occurring along the base of the tooth where the tartar and bacteria are contacting the gum. The top tooth which is second to the left of the large canine tooth has obvious gingival overgrowth. The gingiva is growing onto the tooth. This commonly occurs when there is a neck lesion present, which is, in essence, a cavity or destruction of the actual tooth and the gingiva is inflamed to the point that it is growing over the hole in the tooth. I can’t be certain of this without probing the area but it has a characteristic appearance of this type of decay.
We score feline dental disease on a range of 1-4, 4 being the worst. This would be classified as a 3 in my opinion from the picture alone. I would recommend that you either receive a second opinion or have another discussion with your veterinarian.
Brushing the teeth or using any sort of dental product will not remove the tartar that is present. It needs to be removed with an ultrasonic scaler under a general anesthetic which allows cleaning beneath the gumline which will help control the gingivitis.
Sorry to give you this news but I believe you probably already knew this!
Dr. Clayton Greenway
Disclaimer: healthcareforpets.com and its team of veterinarians and clinicians do not endorse any products, services, or recommended advice. All advice presented by our veterinarians, clinicians, tools, resources, etc is not meant to replace a regular physical exam and consultation with your primary veterinarian or other clinicians. We always encourage you to seek medical advice from your regular veterinarian.
- Do you recommend a stool test for my cat who is on a raw food diet?
- Answered by: Dennis Chmiel, DVM, MBA
- Nov 25, 2020
- When can you start brushing a cat’s teeth?
- Answered by: Jeanne Perrone, MS, CVT, VTS (Dentistry)
- Jun 13, 2020
- Why does my cat have a runny nose and discharge in his eyes?
- Answered by: Dr. Alex Avery, BVSc
- May 16, 2019