What should gumlines look like after a dental cleaning?

Anoxia

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Hello! I got my cat's teeth scaled and polished under anesthesia last year. At the time I didn't check her gums every day like I do now, but I remember that either her gumlines stayed red despite the cleaning, or they became red again in less than a few weeks (if not days) despite having her teeth brushed daily, and it didn't get better. I wasn't sure if it was a sign that the cleaning was poorly done or if I had unrealistic expectations; she is scheduled to have another cleaning with the same vet, and this time I wanted to be more thorough about monitoring her progress.
  1. Are her gums supposed to look healthy after the cleaning (e.g. red gumline entirely gone)? Or is it normal that they remain sore and red for some time due to the scaling, but the redness is expected to go away shortly (within a few days? Weeks?) of the cleaning?
  2. Should I refrain from brushing her teeth for a few days after she receives her cleaning?
Obligatory cat tax attached. 😻 Thank you!
 

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silent meowlook

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Hi. Can you post a picture of her gum line? It is normal for the gum line to be a little inflamed after the cleaning but it should go back to normal in a week. Provided of course that there are not underlying problems. Make sure whoever is doing the dental has dental radiograph capabilities and does radiographs first.
I would wait a week after an uncomplicated dental before brushing the teethe.It is so good that you brush your cats teethe.
 
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Anoxia

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Hello! I'm not able to take a picture right now, but it looks similar to the image here, where the red is focused specifically on the gumline (as opposed to a general redness/puffyness/inflammation that affects the gums as a whole) and the rest of the gums appear to be a normal pink.

The red line was only present around her molars since her cleaning last March but in the past 3 months they've been steadily moving towards the canines. :( I know they're susceptible to genetics but I can't help but feel like I'm doing something wrong since I brush their teeth every day and specifically moved her to chunky raw food to help with cleaning (and have been feeding her 1-2 gizzards daily since the start of June, with the intention to introduce her to chicken necks eventually), and she still seems on the path to need a cleaning yearly.

And thank you for letting me know! I picked their secondary vet specifically for x-rays since their primary vet only did cleanings but no x-rays. I'll be sure to wait a week before resuming her teeth brushing after her next cleaning!
 

fionasmom

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If the gums on your cat look like the gingivitis pic that you posted, you should show that to the vet and ask for their opinion. When I have had dental cleaning done on an animal, dog or cat, the gumline was certainly not that red or irritated looking.
 

Maurey

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My boy just had his first dental scaling on Thursday, and his gums are still red, though they do seem to be gradually going down. He seems to be eating with his normal eagerness today, after having a couple days of tenderness.
That said, he had fairly bad gingivitis due to buildup on his teeth (he had especially bad calculus on his back teeth, poor boy), as he hadn’t had any dental care before he came to live with me recently; he’s turning 4 at the end of June, so he does have some genetic predisposition. But then, so do a majority of cats. I was told my girl was anoxic during a routine checkup last year because her gums were a healthy light pink instead of inflamed 🙄

Not the best photo, as I didn’t want to annoy Chips too much as he’s still a bit tender, but gives a good enough idea.

C96F21F3-64D8-4CBF-A580-6FCCAE2A45AA.jpeg

It’s important to note, though, that his inflammation was only worse on the first day immediately after the scaling — right now it’s improving, both from what it used to be like, and from immediately after his procedure. That said, if it’s not fully gone by the coming Thursday, I’ll probably be calling their clinic to see what can be done/what could be causing his, by then, lasting inflammation.

My girl, Jumanji, who’s both a year and a half younger, and has had dental care from 8 months (and less buildup because of it) had minimal inflammation after both her dentals. I didn’t grab a photo from her most recent one, but here are her gums the day after her dental last year. The inflammation was pretty much gone completely in another day, and most of the inflammation you can see was due to her previously having a traumatic occlusion due to her back tooth. It’s been shortened and sealed with a filling, which is what the blue stuff is.

F9FDDF26-137B-40E9-801E-F828191EAA31.jpeg

Is your vet a specialized dentist? What kind of brush and toothpaste are you using? A brush too large or too hard can irritate the gums. I used to use baby toothbrushes to mixed success, but now I use Curaprox 1006 brushes, which I’m finding a lot more effective, as it’s easier to stay within the lines and not accidentally irritate the gums. It also helps that the way the brush is angled really helps you see what you’re doing.

Edited for some typos ahah
 
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Kiyangoin

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Hello! I got my cat's teeth scaled and polished under anesthesia last year. At the time I didn't check her gums every day like I do now, but I remember that either her gumlines stayed red despite the cleaning, or they became red again in less than a few weeks (if not days) despite having her teeth brushed daily, and it didn't get better. I wasn't sure if it was a sign that the cleaning was poorly done or if I had unrealistic expectations; she is scheduled to have another cleaning with the same vet, and this time I wanted to be more thorough about monitoring her progress.
  1. Are her gums supposed to look healthy after the cleaning (e.g. red gumline entirely gone)? Or is it normal that they remain sore and red for some time due to the scaling, but the redness is expected to go away shortly (within a few days? Weeks?) of the cleaning?
  2. Should I refrain from brushing her teeth for a few days after she receives her cleaning?
Obligatory cat tax attached. 😻 Thank you!
how much does your vet charge for a cleaning? We just went to the vet today and she noted that he had some plaque “for his age” which I hadn’t noticed.
 
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Anoxia

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fionasmom fionasmom Hello! To clarify, what kind of opinion should I ask for? Both the primary and secondary vet agreed that she needed a cleaning during her checkup in January and March respectively; I had scheduled one for April but the vet told me he was uncomfortable putting her under anesthesia again so soon due to her last cleaning being March 2020 and suggested I wait another 6 months. Should I ask if he'd reconsider based on how her gumline has progressed and if I should schedule her dental earlier?

Maurey Maurey Thank you so much for the images and the timeline! Her gums looked like that last year so it's reassuring to know it's normal—including that most cats have a genetic disposition. I have two unrelated cats and I thought it was just a luck of the draw that both had bad teeth. 😂

I didn't realize there were specialized dentists so I never asked, although I'll be sure to include it in my next e-mail! If it's relevant though, they present themselves as a general vet (e.g. doing annual check-ups, boosters, and other non-dentistry services) and only schedule cleanings 2 days of the week for when the vet that does cleanings comes in.

I use the small white C.E.T. toothbrush and their poultry toothpaste. I use the method by Dr. Pierson (searching "Here is a video that I took in December, 2010." brings up the video download), where it seems like she brushes in one direction, either front to back or back to front. For a few days I tried using circular motions but I wasn't sure how with the C.E.T. brush due to the pointed shape of the bristles and worried that the bristles would dig into her gums over time once they began to lose their shape, so I just do the strokes.

I love that the Curaprox 1006 brush has a long handle compared to the C.E.T.; are you able to turn the brush backwards (so they face the back teeth) and use it that way? And do you just brush along their gumline (front to back or back to front) or are you able to include up and down or circular motions as well?

Kiyangoin Kiyangoin Hello! I live in a HCOL area and the lowest range of cleanings I've seen is $600 although competitors have quoted me at $1,000 or more pre-COVID. My primary vet is able to do them for around $300-400 but it excludes x-rays. (All quotes exclude pain medication, extractions, and other complications, but include bloodwork and anesthesia.)
 
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Maurey

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Yep, vet dentists have another 2(?) extra years of education on top of general vet training. I’m able to use the curaprox in any direction with any kind of motion, within reason. As you’re not meant to press particularly hard anyway, the brush shouldn’t lose shape quickly. When it does, it’s meant to be replaced with a new one so that you can keeep brushing effectively.
 
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Anoxia

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Maurey Maurey Aha! Thank you so much for letting me know, and I'll include the brush in my next Amazon order!

I have small hands so I haven't been able to keep their lips open while holding their head in place with just one hand. I've been brushing by putting the brush under the lips and going by feel (e.g. waiting for the bristles to hit teeth before stroking) and I thought I was doing it gently, but the bristles tend to deform within 6 months so I'll try going softer. Do you think it's critical that I be able to see the teeth as I brush them to be sure to reach the areas right under the gum?
 

Maurey

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I always pull back my girl’s lips, as she’s used to having her teeth brushed. My boy is still learning, so I’ll go however far he has patience for, and do the rest by feel. I personally find being able to see what’s going on helpful, plus I see the state of their mouth on a daily basis that way, which is beneficial.
6 months is pretty good for any toothbrush to last, tbh, especially if your cat tends to chew on the bristles, like mine do.
 

fionasmom

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Since the vet is concerned about over frequent use of anesthesia, I would just ask if he sees anything that would make a cleaning a necessity in the very near future. He may see something entirely differently from what I am picturing and reassure you that her teeth are fine for the time being. Very cute little baby with those huge eyes.
 
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Anoxia

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Maurey Maurey Sounds perfect! I tried to give lifting-their-lips-while-cleaning another try, and—yeah. Even extending my hand I can't touch both the crown of their head and the bottom of their chin at the same time haha. I'm glad it's not too detrimental going only by feel!

Thank you for letting me know about the life expectancy of the toothbrush, too! It's reassuring to know what kind of benchmarks to look for when I monitor their care. :D

fionasmom fionasmom Thank you for your feedback! I e-mailed the vet Sunday night and was able to hear back today, and they let me know I could bring her in! Unfortunately their earliest appointment is mid-July, but it at least gave me enough advance warning to submit my sick day requests. 😆

And yes!! Usually her eyes look proportionate and she tends towards being aloof, but she REALLY turns up the charm to let me know it's dinnertime. 😻
 

Maurey

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Stomatitis is inflammation of the entire gums, not just around the teeth. The photo OP shared that they said looks like their cat is textbook gingivitis.
 
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Anoxia

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Thank you all again for the help! Now that the cleaning is over, I'd appreciate further thoughts on the progression of her mouth (I've also asked the vet who did the cleaning, and will be asking the same from their primary vet during their next annual, but I'm always open to more thoughts!)

gumline_progress.png

(In case the text is difficult to read: the first row is the day before the cleaning, the second row is the day after the cleaning, and the third row is a week after the cleaning.)

Does this seem normal? I was under the impression that gingivitis was reversible and had gone in with the expectation that her gum line would stop being irritated, but this is now the second year in a row where the red lingered along her gum line after the cleaning. :( (She's two years old, so she's had a cleaning every year of her life.) If it's normal then I can get her cleanings as needed; if not, I'll seek out a different vet for her next cleaning (unfortunately the building her primary vet is located in doesn't have an x-ray machine).

Thank you!
 
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silent meowlook

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You really need to find a veterinarian that has dental X ray. Cats often have diseased teeth above the gumline in the roots that you can't see without a dental x ray.
What are you doing for home care?
 
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Anoxia

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Hello! I agree; it's why I take them to their secondary vet for dental care so that x-rays can be taken each time, and why I'm unable to use my primary vet for cleaning despite trusting them more. At this point I mainly was not sure if I should continue to use the secondary vet or if I should find a new one, since I'm hoping to remove the inflamed gum lines but I'm not sure if my expectations are realistic or if what she has (inflamed gums that persist even immediately following a cleaning; is it supposed to take more than a week to diminish?) is the best she'll get.

Since March 2020 I've been brushing their teeth daily with cat-appropriate toothpaste (I'm on my phone right now, but one of my posts above links the toothbrush and toothpaste I've been using) with 28 strokes per side. I've since increased it to 35 strokes per side and am using two types of brushes as well as gauze wrapped around my finger to try and better reach the back teeth. I've fed chunky raw food since 2020 and 1 gizzard a day since June 2021.
 
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Maurey

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Gums can take a long time to heal after cleaning is done under the gumline, especially with bad buildup. According to my cats’ vet dentist, it can persist for a long time, especially if you accidentally irritate the gums while brushing — I’d stop using the gauze as it’s easier to irritate the gums with it, as opposed to a small brush head. As long as you see improvement in the coming weeks I wouldn’t worry too much. Chips had really bad buildup (and swelling) at his back teeth before his first cleaning, so he’s still healing. He was set back because of his rabies vaccine, as that caused worsened oral swelling for him, poor boy, but he‘s back on track with his improvement. That said, if he’s not healed by 2 months after his procedure, we’re checking back in with the vet.
 
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Anoxia

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That's good to know; thank you so much! I'll continue to monitor her over the coming weeks, and check in with the vet at the 2 month mark as well if it's still healing by then! I'll stick to her toothbrushes for now and remove the gauze from her dental regimen, too.

It's really reassuring to know there's still hope for her mouth getting better; thank you so much!
 
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