Feline Chronic Gingivostomatitis (FCGS) by Dr. Katherine Takacs

The first question you will likely have is, “what the heck is gingivostomatitis?!!!”  Gingivostomatitis is inflammation of the gums and the entire oral cavity.  It is recognized by severe redness and inflammation of the tissues in the mouth.  Ulcers are commonly found in the mouth, on the lips and the tongue.

Signs that can be noted at home include: severe mouth pain; bad breath; excessive salivation; decreased appetite; weight loss; dropping food out of the mouth and difficulty eating.

The exact cause of FCGS is unknown.  It is generally believed to be an inappropriate immune response to things such as: oral bacteria, plaque, viruses and food allergens.  Genetics and environment may also play a role in the heightened immune response.

FCGS is diagnosed through a thorough history, a complete oral exam and by ruling out other associated conditions like advancing dental disease.  A complete blood panel, including testing for viral infections like feline leukemia and feline immunodeficiency virus,and a urinalysis are recommended before pursuing any dental procedure.

Treatment for FCGS is very aggressive, and involves pulling out all affected teeth.  There is controversy between veterinary dentists whether all teeth in the mouth should be pulled, vs leaving the canines in. Dental radiographs (x-rays) of the entire oral cavity are taken, both before and after extractions.

80% of cats respond to full mouth extractions, with the resolution of pain and inflammation.  These cats are found to actually have a much improved quality of life, (and appetite!), despite not having any teeth left.

20% of cats will need additional medical management, such as steroids, anti-virals and immune-suppressants.

The key message is that FCGS is an extremely painful oral disease in cats.  It is best treated with aggressive dental surgery, after which the vast majority of cats go on to fully recover. Medications only play a minor role, both before and after surgery.  Unfortunately, delaying proper treatment will greatly decrease the chance of success.

Photo reference: http://www.animaldental.com.au/gingivostomatitis.html