Periodontal disease in cats: back to basics--with an eye on the future

J Feline Med Surg. 2015 Jan;17(1):45-65. doi: 10.1177/1098612X14560099.


Practical relevance: Periodontal disease is commonly encountered in feline practice. Gingivitis, followed by inflammation of the rest of the periodontal tissues, can lead to chronic oral infection, bacteraemia, pain and ultimately tooth loss. Given adequate plaque control and thorough, consistent dental home care, gingivitis is a reversible and controllable condition. Periodontitis, however, is an essentially irreversible and progressive condition. Treatment aims to control tissue inflammation, returning the gingiva to clinical health and preventing destruction of the periodontium in other parts of the mouth.

Clinical challenges: Diagnosis must be established using a combination of oral examination under anaesthesia and dental radiography. Periodontitis leads to tooth attachment loss, and given the short length of most cat teeth, probing depths of 1 mm or more should alert the clinician to the presence of periodontitis. The decision of whether to extract or preserve affected teeth needs careful consideration. In practice, as periodontitis is often associated with type 1 tooth resorption, extraction is often required, but the slender and delicate nature of feline tooth roots, compounded by the destructive nature of tooth resorption, can frustrate extraction attempts. As highlighted in this article, iatrogenic damage to teeth is also a real risk if periodontal therapy procedures (including scaling and polishing) are not performed carefully. The challenges of providing home care in the cat are additionally discussed.

Evidence base: The authors have drawn upon, wherever possible, an evidence base relating strictly to the feline patient. Where there is a lack of published research, evidence from canine and human studies is assessed.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cat Diseases / prevention & control*
  • Cats
  • Dental Plaque / veterinary
  • Dental Prophylaxis / trends
  • Dental Prophylaxis / veterinary*
  • Disease Progression
  • Gingivitis / veterinary
  • Periodontal Diseases / prevention & control
  • Periodontal Diseases / veterinary*
  • Periodontitis / veterinary
  • Prognosis