How to Properly Brush Your Cat’s Teeth

How to Properly Brush Your Cat’s Teeth

by Scritch

Your cat has 30 teeth with no effective way to keep them clean, so it’s up to you to keep them scrubbed and healthy. While it’s best to get your kitty used to having his teeth cleaned from kittenhood, he can still get used to the process when he’s an adult. Combined with a good dental pet food and dental treats available at your veterinarian’s office, your cat will have a healthy mouth.

Avoiding dental disease

According to the American Veterinary Dental College, 70 percent of cats over age 3 have dental disease, and dental disease can lead to kidney and heart disease, as well as painful conditions in his mouth. Bad breath is the first sign of dental disease. Other signs include yellow or brown crust on teeth, bleeding gums, drooling, and a change in chewing habits. Some cats are more prone to dental disease, but age and breed are also factors. For example, Persians and other flat-faced cats are more likely to have crowded teeth, which can make them more difficult to keep clean. Older cats also tend to have more dental problems.

What to use

You can find small toothbrushes made for cats, as well as special brushes that you can slip over your fingertip. Let your cat check out the brush – let him sniff it and rub his face on it. If you have more than one cat, be sure they each have their own brush. They may even have individual preferences for toothpaste flavors.

Purchase a toothpaste specially designed for cats – often you’ll find chicken or tuna flavors. You may want to buy a few different options to see what your cat prefers. Your veterinarian may recommend a dental additive or spray, which control the number of bacteria in your cat’s mouth.

Note: Never use human toothpaste. The AVDC says it can contain abrasives and high-foaming detergents that could be harmful to your cat. Unlike human toothpaste, cat toothpastes are safe for your kitty to swallow.

How to clean kitty’s teeth

The AVDC says the key to brushing your cat’s teeth is to take a very gradual and gentle approach.

  1. Start by letting your cat lick the toothpaste from your finger. Then move on to letting him lick the toothpaste off the toothbrush.
  2. When you’re ready to give brushing a try, put your hand over your cat’s head and, using your index finger and thumb on opposite sides of your cat’s upper jaw, gently raise her lip on one side. Brush one or two teeth on the cheek side—the outside surface is the area most prone to tartar build-up, so focus on this area.
  3. To brush your cat’s lower teeth, tilt her head back while holding onto her upper jaw. Her mouth will open slightly, and you can start brushing.

Be patient and gentle; it will take some time to get your cat used to the process. Even with regular home care, your cat may need a cleaning by your veterinarian. Without good dental care, your cat may develop painful or even life-threatening health problems. With just a bit of practice and patience, you can get into a regular brushing routine to help keep your furry friend’s mouth sparkling clean.

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