Chronic Gingivostomatitis

Definition

Chronic gingivostomatitis is long standing inflammation extending beyond the gum margin (gingiva) to involve other oral tissues. The condition has also been referred to as ‘faucitis’ and ‘lymphocytic plasmacytic stomatitis’. These are only descriptive terms and is not a diagnosis. The condition has been associated with certain viruses. The disease process is not fully understood but is thought to be an aberrant immune response to plaque accumulation on the teeth.

Diagnosis

The condition is more common in cats than dogs. The gums are red, ulcerated and often will bleed easily. The back of the mouth, tongue and lip folds can be similarly affected. Cats will often stop eating as this is excruciatingly painful. Cats may have poor coat condition because of lack of grooming and appear depressed. Cats will often salivate profusely and have bad breath. A blood test should be performed to ensure that there are no other underlying conditions affecting the cat.

Treatment

A thorough investigation to rule out underlying disease is important. This may include a blood screen as a general health profile and viral screening. A dental examination under general anaesthetic is essential to identify any underlying dental disease and full mouth x-rays must be taken for complete assessment.

Currently, the treatment that offers best long term resolution is complete extraction of all the premolars and molars together with medical management. Extraction of these teeth is a challenging procedure and should only be carried out by a vet with a high level of skill and competency and with facilities to take dental x-rays. If your vet is unsure then referral to a veterinary dentist is advisable.

Although complete extraction appears to be a radical treatment option, cats recover extremely well with an improved quality of life. A domestic cat does not actually need any teeth to eat well!