Oral health issues may be just as painful for our cats as they are for us. In fact, tooth and mouth pain may even get so bad that it prevents your furry friend from eating. Here, our Des Moines vets explain some of the best ways you can help keep your cat's mouth clean and healthy.
Cat Dental Health
Cats are adept at concealing their discomfort. They may actually be suffering from painful oral health problems without ever expressing discomfort. As a result, cat owners must be aware of their companion's oral health and well-being, as well as ensure that their cat's teeth are clean.
By keeping an eye on your cat's teeth and oral health, you may be able to detect health issues early and get your cat treated before emerging issues become more serious (and expensive).
Annual Dental Checkups For Your Feline Family Member
To ensure that your feline companion's mouth remains pain-free and as healthy as possible, our Des Moines Veterinary Hospital veterinarians recommend including annual dental exams as part of their routine professional care. Your veterinarian will be able to assess your pet's oral health in addition to their general physical health and will be able to inform you if professional cleanings or surgeries are necessary to restore your cat's health.
How To Clean Your Cat's Teeth
The best way to ensure that your cat's teeth and gums remain as healthy as possible for as long as possible is to practice daily oral hygiene at home. To make the teeth-cleaning process as simple as possible for your cat at home, you should establish the habit of touching their mouth and brushing their teeth while they are still quite young. They will become accustomed to the sensation and more tolerant of brushing as a result.
Your goal should be to make brushing your cat's teeth as stress-less as possible by incorporating it into your cat's daily routines. Start by waiting until your cat is relaxed and calm and then take the following 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 with licking just a small dab of toothpaste from your finger.
The length of time and thoroughness of your cat's brushing will depend on their temperament for the most part. Make sure you remain flexible and adapt your approach to accommodate how tolerant your cat is. Some cat owners have a very easy time cleaning their feline friend's teeth with gauze, while others find that a finger brush works well. Others may even apply a dental gel with their fingers that can do some of 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. It could be weeks before your kitty tolerates having all of their teeth cleaned during a single session.
If your cat is alarmed or stressed out by the process of having their teeth cleaned, they may react by scratching or biting. So, if brushing your cat's teeth becomes too difficult for you and your feline companion, consider adding plaque remover to their drinking water, getting them specially designed chew toys, or providing them with dental treats.
As well as your efforts to keep your kitty's teeth clean and healthy, they’ll also need a regular professional dental cleaning performed by a qualified vet to keep their teeth in optimal 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.