Cat Blog

Clean Those Teeth!

Keys Ideas:

  • Brush your cats teeth to avoid gum disease and other health problems – this is a hugely under-realized health consideration and is as important as us brushing our teeth
  • The bacteria that cause dental disease are the same bacteria that can travel throughout your cat’s system to cause lung, heart and kidney problems
  • Dont brush a kittens milk teeth, but do start getting young cats used to their mouth’s being touched – again don’t underestimate the usefulness of doing this early
  • Use cat toothpaste only and a cat or baby toothbrush
  • Gently does it – slow introduction of toothpaste and then a toothbrush
  • Please have regular check-ups at the vet

It is thought that a high percentage of pets are in need of dental treatment without their owners realizing it. A lot can be done to prevent this by simply brushing your cat’s teeth. Start brushing your cat’s teeth at an early stage – although a kittens milk teeth should not be brushed; however geting your young cat used to having their mouth and teeth touched is a massive advantage for future brushing.

Many cats over the age of three have already developed tooth and gum problems without regular brushing. Just like our teeth, your cat’s teeth accumulate plaque and if this isn’t kept under control, it can lead to tartar and periodontal (gum) disease. It is really important to make sure you give attention to your cat’s dental care.

Here are some tips for beginning your cat’s teeth brushing routine:

  • Ask for advise from your veterinary surgeon or veterinary nurse on how to brush your cat’s teeth properly
  • Buy cat toothpaste that’s specially made for cats – you should never use human toothpaste. Cat toothpaste comes in enticing flavours which can help
  • Start by putting the cat toothpaste on your finger and offering it to your cat to lick. Do this daily for a few days while they get used to the flavour and texture, while also getting your cat used to being touched around their mouth and teeth
  • Get a toothbrush that’s designed for cats. You can use a baby’s toothbrush as these are suitably soft. One brush per cat if you have more than one cat
  • Now to the fun stuff – have your cat sat on your lap facing away from you when you start brushing; this is an easier and less confrontational approach. If your cat tries to push you away with their paws, you may need someone to help you hold them, but it’s better to try to slowly acclimatise your cat by repeatedly touching their mouth and head, reassuring them with quiet, soothing words and offering rewards for several days. There’s no great rush to start brushing – what’s more important is that they learn to trust the toothpaste, toothbrush and you
  • Slowly and gently pull back your cat’s lips and simply touch their teeth with the cat toothbrush at first, then stop and reward your cat. Again repeat this daily for several days. Only when they’re completely comfortable with this should you gently start tooth brushing by reaching both the tooth surface and just beneath the gum margin, but not directly on the gums
  • Gently raise the lip on one side of their mouth and begin brushing on the outer portions of the teeth. Brush down away from the gum line so that you loosen any embedded food particles and push them out of the mouth. On the bottom jaw, brush up away from the gum line

Below are some ways to identify if your cat may be experiencing dental pain:

  • Not eating or difficulties in eating / chewing
  • Clawing at the mouth
  • Hiding or not wanting to play
  • Pain on examination

Signs of dental disease are:

  • Bad breath
  • Calculus build-up
  • Redness of gum line
  • Bleeding
  • Swelling
  • Drooling or hyper-Salivation
  • Fur stainage

I hope my article has help you. Please feel free to comment or ask questions. I have direct experience of my cat Rio having her teeth extracted and more recently a clean and extraction. Rio has Kidney Disease and so I know exactly how stressful it can be having your cat go under a general anesthetic. However, it is better to have the cause of pain and potential further health damage taken away.

Caroline

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