How & How Often to Clean Your Cat's Teeth

Similar to people, cats can develop oral health issues that not only affect their dental health, but their overall well-being. This means that cat owners need to be proactive about keeping their teeth clean. Here, our Sacramento vets share a few tips on creating a successful oral health care routine.

Tips for Keeping Your Cat's Teeth Clean

While we may have domesticated cats, they still hide their physical pain thanks to evolutionary instincts developed by their wild ancestors. However, it's possible for our feline companions to experience oral health issues just like their human owners. 

Consequently, cat parents need to be vigilant about our four-legged friends’ oral health and keep their teeth clean, so problems can be detected and treated as soon as possible. Hopefully, this will also help avoid as many painful, uncomfortable and expensive procedures as possible.

Book Annual Dental Checkups for Your Cat

Cats should have a dental checkup during their annual visit to the veterinarian. During this appointment, your vet will assess your cat’s oral health and any conditions that may be present, along with their overall physical health.

He or she can then let you know if your cat needs a professional veterinary dental cleaning or surgery.

Develop a Daily Dental Care Routine

Just like us, our cats require daily oral health and dental care to make sure their teeth stay clean and healthy. To this end, it's a good idea to try to get your kitten used to have their teeth brushed when they are young. 

Get your vet's blessing before you begin any at-home dental care routine since even kittens may have oral health issues that may require veterinary attention before you start brushing their teeth and cleaning their mouth. 

You will likely have more success if you ease your cat into their routine quite gradually. Wait until your cat is calm and relaxed and then follow the steps below for the best chance at success.

  1. Gently lift their lips and take a few seconds to use your finger to give his teeth and gums a massage.
  2. Keep your expectations low to begin. You may only reach one or two teeth the first few times that you attempt brushing - and that's alright! Make sure that you stop before your kitty get's too annoyed with your behavior. 
  3. Make sure that you provide lots of praise, pat their head and give your cat a yummy treat after your teeth-and-gums massage. Your goal is to build your cat's tolerance to having their teeth brushed, gradually increasing the duration of the time you spend on the task.
  4. When your cat has gotten used to having his teeth and gum massaged on a regular basis, you can gradually begin to introduce a toothbrush and toothpaste designed specifically for cats (do not use your own toothpaste, as its ingredients are toxic to our furry friends). Find flavors that appeal to them, such as chicken or beef.
  5. Begin brushing your cat's teeth gradually. Your cat may start with licking a tiny dab of toothpaste from your finger (you may even have the chance to taste test a few different flavors). Brushes with soft bristles are created especially for cats' delicate gums - use these if possible.

Some cat owners find that a finger brush works for their kitties, while others discover a small piece of soft gauze may be key to success. There's also the option to apply dental gel with your finger or a toothbrush and have the gel do the work for you.

When you start to brush your cat's teeth, work quickly by moving along the gum line. Finish the brushing session before your cat becomes irritated if you can. It may take up to weeks before we will tolerate having all of his teeth cleaned in one session. 

A word to the wise: Your cat may react by biting or scratching if they become too stressed out during teeth cleaning. Some owners choose to spare their fingers by dropping additives such as plaque remover into their kitty’s drinking water.

Several products that may help with cleaning cat's teeth are available. Of course, they will also need a routinely scheduled professional dental cleaning performed by a qualified veterinarian in order to keep their teeth healthy.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Is your pet due for a dental cleaning? Contact our Sacramento vets today to book an appointment.