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How to Clean a Cat's Teeth

Like ourselves, our cats can experience oral health issues, making it essential for pet parents to be proactive about keeping their cat or kitten's teeth clean. Today, our Statesboro vets share a few tips on cleaning your cat's teeth and creating a successful oral health care routine for your feline friend.

Keeping Your Cat's Teeth Clean

Cats are stoic animals that are well-known for hiding physical pain and discomfort until any underlying health issues have become advanced. Nonetheless, our feline friends can experience oral health issues which can be painful or even detrimental to their overall health and wellbeing.

If you're a cat parent, it's important to be diligent about your kitty's oral health and keeping your furry companion’s teeth clean. Being proactive about your cat's oral health can help to prevent your cat from developing oral health problems, or help to detect and treat minor issues before they become more serious concerns. A proactive approach to your pet's dental health may also help you avoid the need for your cat to undergo expensive procedures, such as dental surgery, to address issues that could have been prevented in the first place.

Annual Dental Checkups to Maintain Feline Dental Health

The next time you schedule your cat's annual veterinary examination, be sure to request that a dental checkup be part of that appointment. This will allow your vet to evaluate your cat’s oral health in addition to their overall physical health, and let you know if your kitty requires professional dental cleaning or surgery.

What Happens During a Dental Appointment for Cats

During a dental appointment for cats, the vet will typically perform a thorough oral examination to check for any signs of dental disease, or issues such as tartar buildup, gingivitis, or broken teeth. They will also clean your cat’s teeth, while the cat is under general anesthesia.

A Daily Dental Care Routine for Your Kitty

It is estimated that more than 70% of cats develop tooth and gum disease by the age of 3 years old. By establishing a daily oral care routine early on, you could help your cat avoid dental issues.

The best time to start a regular tooth brushing routine is when your cat is still young. However, it's a good idea to check with your veterinarian first. Even a sweet young kitten may have oral health issues that must be addressed before brushing its teeth.

Brushing Your Cat's Teeth

Needless to say, you’ll want to ease your cat into a new toothbrushing routine to help keep them calm and relaxed throughout the process. This also helps to keep your cat's teeth clean in between dental appointments. Here's how you should brush your cat's teeth.

  1. Gently lift their lips, then use your finger to massage their teeth and gums for a few seconds.
  2. Adjust your expectations. You may only reach one or two teeth the first few times you try this. Stop before your cat gets too annoyed.
  3. Give lots of praise and a yummy treat after your teeth-and-gum massage. The goal is to build your cat’s tolerance to the experience, gradually increasing the length of time you spend on the task.
  4. Once your kitty has become used to having you massage their teeth and gums regularly, you can gradually introduce a toothbrush and toothpaste designed especially for cats (never use your personal toothpaste, as it contains ingredients that are toxic to cats). Look for pet toothpaste flavors that appeal to cats, such as beef or chicken.
  5. Start with the brushing as gradually as you did the teeth-and-gum massage. Your cat may begin with licking just a small dab of toothpaste from your finger (you may even have the opportunity to try a few different flavors to see what your cat likes). Find a brush that has soft bristles made for cats’ delicate gums.

While some pet parents successfully clean their cat's teeth using a small piece of soft gauze, others find a finger brush works for their cats. Still another approach is to apply dental gel to their cat's teeth using a toothbrush or a finger, which does the work for them.

When you start brushing your cat's teeth, simply move along the gum line, working quickly but calmly, and stop before your cat becomes irritated. It's important to note that your cat may take weeks to tolerate having all of their teeth cleaned in a single session.

Alternatives to Brushing

If brushing your cat’s teeth causes undue stress, they may react by struggling, scratching, or biting. If this is the case for your cat, you may want to consider adding plaque remover to their drinking water, providing specially designed chew toys, or giving them dental treats and plaque-fighting cat food.

Whichever method you choose to keep your cat’s teeth clean, remember that your kitty also requires annual professional dental cleaning by a qualified veterinarian to help keep their teeth in tip-top condition.

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.

If you think that your cat could have dental health issues, such as gum disease or cavities, contact our team to book an appointment right away. Our Statesboro veterinarians are experienced in providing dental care for your beloved pet.

New Patients Welcome

Statesboro Bulloch Regional Veterinary Hospital is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Statesboro companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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