Poor dental hygiene can affect cats in much the same way it does for us, leading to a number of serious oral health concerns. Here, our Brooklyn vets share some information about oral hygiene and how you can help care for your cat's dental health.
The Importance of Cat Dental Care
Cats are stoic creatures that are adept at hiding their pain. They may actually be suffering from a painful oral health issue without ever letting on that they are uncomfortable. 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.
How to Clean Your Cat's Teeth
When you stick to a daily hygiene routine, you can ensure that your cat responds as well as possible to the process and aid in setting them up for lifelong good oral health. To make cleaning your cat's teeth at home as easy and stress-free as possible, begin establishing a daily oral hygiene routine for your cat while they are still a kitten. This way, your cat will be accustomed to having its teeth brushed and mouth touched from a young age.
This should be a simple and welcome part of your cat's daily care. 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 cat at first. You may only be able to reach a couple of teeth the first few times you 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 acquire from your vet and some special cat toothpaste. Toothpaste can come in a range of excellent flavors for cats like beef or chicken.
- Begin using the toothbrush as gradually as you did the teeth-and-gum massage; your cat may begin by licking just a small dab of toothpaste from your finger.
Take Your Time When You Begin With Oral Hygiene
Your pet's temperament will directly affect the success that you have with cleaning their teeth. Make sure you are calm, relaxed, flexible, and willing to adapt your approach to your cat's level of tolerance. Many cat owners have a very easy time cleaning their pet's teeth with some gauze, others find a finger brush works well and others apply a dental gel with their fingers that they allow to do the work for them.
When you finally begin brushing your cat's teeth successfully, move along the gum line, working quickly but stopping before your cat becomes irritated. Don't be discouraged if it takes a while for your cat to put up with cleaning their whole mouth.
Don't try to clean your cat's teeth when they are already stressed or unhappy as this will likely only result in you being hurt in the process. 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.
Annual Cat Dental Health Exams & Cleanings
To help ensure that your cat's mouth stays pain-free and healthy, our vets recommend annual professional dental care as a part of your kitty's preventative healthcare routine. These checkups are just like one of your regular dental visits. 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 dentist will provide you with recommendations regarding care or surgery to treat your cat's oral health issues.
To find out more about dental care for cats available here at our Brooklyn animal hospital check out our dentistry page.
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.