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Dental Health in Cats: Why It's Important

Dental health issues can be just as painful for your cat as they are in people. In fact, tooth and mouth pain may even cause your cat to be resistant to eating properly each day. Here, our Bellevue vets explain how to best keep your cat's mouth clean and healthy.

Your Cat's Dental Health

Cats tend to hide their pain and discomfort. Because of this, owners need to be conscious of their feline companion's oral hygiene, both how to take care of it and how to recognize signs of poor dental health.

Why Dental Care for Cats is Important

Dental care for cats is important because dental disease is one of the most common health issues in felines, leading to pain, infection, and even organ damage if left untreated.

By monitoring and routinely cleaning your cat's teeth, you will be able to detect oral health issues early in order to help your cat avoid pain and expensive treatments. 

How to Tell if Your Cat has Dental Health Issues

One way to tell if your cat has dental health issues is by checking for signs of bad breath, swollen or bleeding gums, and difficulty eating. Additionally, you may notice excessive drooling or pawing at their mouth. Regular dental check-ups with a veterinarian can also help identify any underlying issues. 

At-Home Dental Care For Your Feline Friend

The best way to keep your cat's dental health up is to clean their teeth regularly, usually with daily brushings to remove plaque and food buildup. Start by establishing a daily oral health routine for your cat while they are still a kitten to adjust them to it.

To introduce them to brushing, start by placing your cat in a calm and neutral environment they're familiar with. Then, follow these steps:

  1. Gently lift your cat's lips, then use your finger to massage their teeth and gums for just a few seconds.
  2. You may only be able to reach a couple of teeth the first few times your try this process. That's okay though. This is about building trust in your cat to help prevent them from becoming agitated. 
  3. 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.
  4. Gradually introduce a soft-bristled toothbrush you can acquire from you vet and some special cat toothpaste. Toothpaste can come in a range of excellent flavors for cats like beef or chicken.
  5. 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. 

Be Patient & Adaptable While Your Cat Gets Used to the Process

Your cat's temperament plays a big role in how well they do with getting their teeth brushed. Some cat owners have a very easy time cleaning their pet's teeth with gauze while others find that a finger brush works well. Others may apply a dental gel to their cat's teeth with their fingers and let that do 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 feeling alarmed or stressed by the teeth cleaning process, they may react by searching or biting. So, if brushing your cat's teeth is too difficult for you to accomplish, you may want to consider adding plaque remover to your feline companion's drinking water, giving them special dental chew toys or providing them with dental treats. 

Options if Your Cat Doesn't Like Having Their Teeth Brushed

One alternative method to brushing your cat's teeth is using dental wipes or pads specifically designed for pets. These wipes can be gently rubbed along your cat's teeth and gums to help remove plaque and tartar buildup. Another option is to provide dental treats or toys that are designed to promote oral health by reducing plaque and tartar.

Yearly Dental Checkups For Cats

To ensure your cat's dental health, our vets recommend annual dental visits for your kitty. Your veterinarians will make sure to evaluate your oral health routine on top of their overall physical health and let them know about any professional cleanings or surgeries that are required to restore your cat's good health.

To find out more about the veterinary dental care available at our Bellevue animal clinic, check out our dentistry page.

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.

Is it time for your cat's annual dental cleaning? Contact our Bellevue vets today to book your cat's next dental examination and cleaning appointment.

New Patients Welcome

Sawtooth Animal Center Bellevue is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Bellevue companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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