As with humans, cats can develop painful oral health problems as a result of poor oral hygiene or injury. In this post, our Denver vets explain why it's important for cats to have good oral hygiene and how you can brush your cat's teeth.
The Dental Health of Cats
Cats are very impassive animals and are masters at hiding their pain. They could be suffering from a very painful oral health problem without ever letting you know something is wrong. Because of this, owners need to be conscious of their feline companion's oral health and keep their furry companion's teeth clean. By monitoring and regularly cleaning your cat's teeth, you will be able to detect any oral health issues early and help your cat avoid pain and expensive treatment.
Taking Care of Your Cat's Teeth At Home
You can help your cat's teeth and gums stay healthy by maintaining a daily oral hygiene routine. To make the process of brushing your cat's teeth at home, as easy and stress-free as possible, start establishing your cat's dental hygiene routine when they are still a kitten. This way, your cat will be accustomed to having their teeth brushed and mouth touched from a young age.
Strive to make brushing your cat's teeth a smooth and easy part of your feline friend's daily routine. Start by waiting until your cat is calm and relaxed, then follow these steps:
- Gently lift your cat's lips, then use your finger to massage their teeth and gums for just a few seconds.
- Don't expect too much from your kitty in the beginning. You may only be able to reach a couple of teeth the first few times your try this process. That's okay though. This is about building trust in your cat to help prevent them from becoming agitated.
- Remain calm and be sure to give lots of praise and a yummy treat after your teeth-and-gum massage. You're trying to build your cat’s tolerance to the experience, gradually increasing the length of time you spend on the task each day.
- Once your feline friend is used to you massaging their gums each day, you will be able to gradually introduce a soft-bristled toothbrush you can get from your vet and some toothpaste designed specifically for cats. Cat toothpaste is available in a range of delicious flavors your kitty will love, like beef or chicken.
- Start using the toothbrush as gradually as you did the teeth-and-gum massage; your cat may begin by licking just a small bit of toothpaste off of your finger.
Being Patient As Your Cat Gets Used To The Process
The level of success you have when it comes to brushing your cat's teeth will largely depend on their temperament. Be sure to stay calm, relaxed, flexible, and willing to adapt your approach to your cat's level of tolerance. Lots of cat owners have a very easy time cleaning their feline's teeth with some gauze, others find a finger brush works well and others apply a dental gell with their fingers that they let do the work for them.
When you are finally successful at brushing your cat's teeth, move along the gum line, working quickly but stopping before your cat becomes irritated. It could be weeks before your kitty tolerates having all of their teeth cleaned during a single session.
If your cat is stressed or alarmed by the teeth cleaning process, they might respond to it by biting or scratching. So if brushing your cat's teeth is too difficult for you and your kitty consider adding plaque remover additives into their drinking water, getting them specially designed chew toys, or providing your cat with tasty dental treats.
Dental Checkups For Cats
To help your cat's mouth stay pain-free and healthy, we suggest bringing them to the vet for annual professional dental care, as a part of your kitty's preventative healthcare routine. Taking your cat to the vet for a dental appointment is like bringing them to the dentist. Your vet will evaluate your cat's oral health, take X-rays if required, and do a thorough cleaning. If your cat is suffering from a mouth injury, tooth loss, or severe decay, your vet will provide you with recommendations regarding care or surgery to treat your cat's oral health issues.
To learn more about the dental care services our vets offer for cats at Pets on Broadway Animal Hospital in Denver check out the dentistry page on our website.
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.