As with humans, dental care is important to ensuring your cat’s gums and teeth stay healthy, but it isn’t as easy for our feline friends to take care of their teeth. Good oral hygiene has been shown to improve your feline’s health overall, as an overabundance of bacteria in your cat’s mouth can cause infections that can spread to other parts of the body. You may think it’s impossible to clean a cat’s teeth, but with some practice and patience, you can easily maintain your pet’s oral health in less than minutes a day.
To brush a cat’s teeth, it is best to start as early in his life as possible. Gradually ease into the process by using a damp gauze pad to rub his teeth. When he accepts that without a fuss, begin using a toothbrush coated in a small amount of cat meat, which will help your pet form positive associations with the brush. It’s important to use a toothbrush specifically designed for cats that is small and fits over your index finger and to use toothpaste designed specifically for pets. This will make brushing easier, since pet toothpaste comes in a variety of cat-friendly flavors such as poultry. You won’t be able to brush all of Kitty’s teeth in one sitting at first, so don’t worry about cleaning one side of his mouth in the morning and the other at night. Once your pet is accustomed to his toothbrush, clean his mouth using gentle brushing motions along his teeth and gums, especially his back molars, at least a few times a week. If Kitty absolutely will not let you near his mouth, there are a range of dental rinses and tartar control chews that can help keep his teeth clean. Feeding him a mixed diet of wet and dry foods will help preserve his oral health, too.
Signs your cat is already suffering from dental disease include bad breath; red, swollen or bleeding gums; pawing at the face; yellow deposits on the teeth; and loose or missing teeth. Felines who are reluctant to let you see their mouths might also be showing signs of pain. If you can see or smell a problem, your pet is already suffering from advanced periodontal issues and should see a vet immediately. He can perform an anesthetized dental assessment and thorough tooth cleaning for your pet. Once Kitty’s choppers are clean, you can keep them healthy with at-home brushing, though you should continue to get your cat’s teeth cleaned professionally at least once a year to prevent tartar buildup, gingivitis and gum disease, and to track your pet’s oral health.