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Teeth Cleaning for Cats

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 Smyrna vets share a few tips on creating a successful teeth cleaning routine for your cat.

Keeping Your Cat's Teeth Clean

Cats are stoic animals and well-known for hiding physical pain and discomfort until any underlying health issues have become advanced. Nonetheless, our feline friends still do 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 teeth can help to prevent them from developing painful oral health problems, or help to detect and treat minor issues before they develop into more serious concerns. A proactive approach to your pet's dental health may also help you to avoid the need for your cat to undergo expensive procedures to address issues that could have been prevented.

Annual Dental Checkups to Maintain Feline Dental Health

The next time you schedule your cat's routine exam, 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.

A Typical Teeth Cleaning for Cats

For proper dental evaluation and care, your cat must be safely placed under general anesthesia. This allows the veterinarian to thoroughly examine the mouth, noting any abnormalities. A dental probe will be used to evaluate gum bleeding and identify periodontal pockets where food can accumulate and decay can occur if not properly cared for. The examination usually includes dental X-rays.

How can I prevent plaque and tartar after the cleaning?

After your cat's teeth have been professionally cleaned and polished by your veterinarian, home dental care is needed to help reduce plaque and tartar buildup. It is estimated that more than 70% of cats develop tooth and gum disease by the age of three. By establishing a daily oral care routine early on, you could help your cat avoid dental issues.

While your cat is still young is the best time to begin establishing a regular tooth brushing routine. However, it's a good idea to get the okay from your vet first. Even a sweet young kitten could have oral health issues that will need correcting before its teeth can be brushed.

How to Clean a 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. 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 the 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 animals). 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 you.

When you do begin brushing your cat's teeth, simply move along the gum line, working quickly but calmly, then stopping before your cat becomes irritated. It's important to note that it may take weeks before your kitty will tolerate having all of their teeth cleaned within a single session.

Alternatives to Brushing

If the brushing process stresses your cat too much, they may react by struggling, scratching, or biting. If this is the case for your cat, you may want to consider mixing additives, such as plaque remover, into their drinking water, supplying your cat with specially designed chew toys, or providing them with 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 cleanings 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 like gum disease or cavities, contact our team to book an appointment right away. Our Smyrna veterinarians are experienced in providing dental care for your beloved pet.

New Patients Welcome

Are you looking for a vet in Smyrna, Georgia? Cumberland Animal Clinic is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about animal healthcare. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

(770) 433-1414