Cats are mysterious creatures and as such are afflicted by some mysterious ailments. One such disease has had a number of names over the years and this is a reflection of how little we truly know about this condition. The currently accepted name among veterinary dentists is feline chronic gingivo-stomatitis.
Most cats have some degree of gingivitis (inflammation of gum tissue) and many also have periodontal disease (deeper infections of tissues below the gumline). An unfortunate few have a much more dramatic oral inflammatory disease.
There are no specific tests or diagnostic criteria for FCGS. The diagnosis is usually arrived at under the following circumstances:
-the is oral inflammation that seems well out of proportion with the amount of tartar and plaque
-the inflammation extends beyond the gingiva into the other tissues lining the mouth
-inflammation is present and persistent in places where there are no teeth
-the inflammation extends into the back of the mouth, the throat and under the back of the tongue
- the inflammation persists or recurs after thorough dental cleaning and courses of medication
We do not know what causes FGS. Many things have been blamed but there is no evidence to support any particular bacteria, virus or allergy as the cause. The only statement that the evidence supports is that: It is an abnormal local immune system response of unknown origin.
Since we do not know the cause we cannot offer a cure. We can, however, offer a treatment strategy that brings relief to a large majority of cats with FCGS. That treatment is extraction of all teeth and removal of any retained root remnants. This procedure should also include smoothing of the bone and removal of much of the inflamed soft tissue prior to suturing the wounds closed.
While this treatment may seem extreme, it truly is the best chance for lasting and meaningful relief for these cats. Attempts to manage FCGS with medication results in frustration, continued suffering and the addition of drug side effects. It has been observed that the longer whole-mouth extraction is delayed, the worse the prognosis for getting the inflammation to resolve. The longer the mouth is inflamed before extraction, the longer it will remain inflamed after extraction.
The good news is that domestic cats do NOT need teeth. Pet cats do not need to hunt and kill their own food or chew raw meat from a carcass. But they do need and deserve a mouth free of pain and inflammation and for cats with FCGS, the only way to achieve and maintain that is with whole mouth extraction - sooner than later.