How to take care of your cat’s teeth

Improving your cat’s dental health

You feed your cat, play with them, snuggle with them on the couch and provide them with an enriching environment, but you mustn’t overlook their dental health. Learning how to take care of your cat’s teeth is vital for all cat caregivers.

Without regular cleaning or other care, cats can suffer from gum disease and tooth decay. Because they don’t like to show when they’re in pain, cats will often suffer in silence until things get extremely bad. Taking care of your feline friend’s teeth can improve their quality of life.

Check your cat’s dental health

Before you get started on your new dental care regime, check your cat’s teeth so you know where you’re starting from. Cats with good dental health will have white teeth without any noticeable plaque or tartar, especially hard deposits around the gumline. Look for any chipped or broken teeth, as these may need urgent attention. Also, check your cat’s gums. They should be a healthy shade of pink, not swollen or red.

If your cat’s teeth and gums look healthy, you still need to take care of them — you’re just starting from an easier place. With regular care, they should stay in good condition. On the other hand, cats with poor tooth or gum health or significant plaque or tartar build-ups may need a veterinary tooth scaling to address the issues before they get out of hand.

Brush your cat’s teeth

The absolute best way to take care of your cat’s teeth is to brush them regularly. Aim to brush them daily if you can, but otherwise, every other day or a couple of times a week is better than not brushing them at all. However, this is easier said than done because most cats hate having their teeth cleaned. The earlier in life you start, the easier it is to get cats used to tooth brushing, but old cats can learn new tricks.

Start by simply touching your cat’s mouth or letting them lick at toothpaste and gradually progress to short brushing sessions with a finger toothbrush, longer finger brushing sessions and eventually to a regular cat toothbrush if your feline friend will allow it. Give your cat plenty of treats and praise throughout these stages to create a positive association. Always use cat toothpaste as human toothpaste can be toxic to cats.

Feed your cat dental treats

While feeding your cat dental treats alone is unlikely to keep your cat’s teeth in top condition, they’re a reasonable alternative for cats who just won’t let you brush their teeth, even when you introduce it gradually and gently. They’re also good to feed your cat on off-days if you can’t brush their teeth daily.

Try fine dental supplements

Cat dental supplements usually come in powder or liquid form. They contain ingredients that reduce plaque build-up, soften tartar, fresh breath or have a mix of all three. Like dental treats, they aren’t an ideal choice on their own but can be useful in addition to brushing or for cats that don’t tolerate it. If you can’t brush your cat’s teeth, consider using a dental supplement alongside dental treats.

Schedule annual dental checkups for your cat

Part of taking care of your cat’s teeth is getting them checked regularly by a professional. Most veterinarians will check your cat’s teeth as part of an annual wellness check when they come in for their yearly vaccinations. These checks help identify any potential problems sooner than you might notice them if you wait for your cat to display symptoms of dental pain.

What you need to take care of your cat’s teeth

Jasper Finger Dog & Cat Toothbrush

Many people find it easier to brush their cat’s teeth with a finger toothbrush than a regular cat toothbrush. This one has 360-degree bristles, making it easier to brush multiple teeth at once.

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Virbac CET Enzymatic Poultry Flavor Dog Cat Toothpaste

Virbac CET Enzymatic Poultry Flavor Dog & Cat Toothpaste

The enzyme formula gets to work cleaning teeth on contact, so even if you don’t manage to brush your cat’s teeth from all angles, it will still do some good. It has a poultry flavor that many cats find palatable.

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Greenies Feline Oven Roasted Chicken Flavor Adult Dental Cat Treats

Greenies Feline Oven Roasted Chicken Flavor Adult Dental Cat Treats

These treats go some way to cleaning teeth and freshening breath, though they shouldn’t be the only thing you use to care for your cat’s teeth. They’re accepted by the Veterinary Oral Health Council.

Sold by Chewy and Amazon

ProDen PlaqueOff Powder Cat Supplement

ProDen PlaqueOff Powder Cat Supplement

This seaweed-based dental supplement naturally reduces plaque and tartar and freshens breath. While fussy cats might not tolerate it, others like the savory, almost fishy flavor of seaweed.

Sold by Chewy and Amazon

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Lauren Corona writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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