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Cat Dental Health 101: A Basic Overview

Did you know that just like humans, cats need to have good oral hygiene? Back when cats were in the wild, they were able to keep their teeth clean from eating meat and bones. But if you have a house cat, they may not be doing as much hunting or eating out as their ancestors did. This is why it is important to help your cat maintain their dental health. If you have an older cat, this might be a chore. But if you have a kitten, this process can be easy for you and relaxing or fun for them.

Continue reading for common cat dental health issues, symptoms of dental problems in cats, and tips for establishing a dental cleaning routine for your cat, along with a few product recommendations to help keep your cat’s teeth clean.

Common Cat Dental Health Issues

Some of the most common issues or problems with your cat’s dental health are attributed to genetics (such as breed, immune system health), diet, age, and poor maintenance of your cat’s teeth. But remember, every cat is different, and plaque control techniques should meet the needs of each individual cat.

According to the VCA, the most common cat dental health issues include:

  • Gingivitis: Swelling of the gums around the base of the teeth
  • Periodontal Disease: An infection of the gums around the tooth caused by untreated gingivitis
  • Tooth Reabsorption: A painful disease caused by the progressive destruction of the root of the tooth

The dental health issues listed above do not account for all of the potential dental problems cats can face. This is why it is essential to have your cat’s teeth regularly checked by a veterinarian.

Common Symptoms of Dental Problems in Cats

There are multiple indicators of dental problems in cats. Symptoms can include, but are not limited to:

  • Decreased Interest in Food
  • Increased Salivation
  • Sensitivity Around the Mouth
  • Yellowing Teeth
  • Continuous Bad Breath

If your cat displays any of the following symptoms, schedule an appointment with your veterinarian. Poor dental health can also be a sign of a more serious disease such as diabetes. This is why it’s important to visit with your vet as soon as you notice a change.

Establishing a Dental Cleaning Routine

The best way to prevent and fight dental issues is to have a good cleaning routine. If you have a kitten, this is a great time to start training them so you can start familiarizing them with the teeth cleaning process. As you play with your kitten, spend some time sticking a finger on their gums and gently massaging. Giving them tasty treats following a successful cleaning will help to positively reinforce the experience. In their early months, this might even get them to fall asleep and become comforting to them. As kittens get older and their adult teeth begin to grow in, introduce a toothbrush (either a finger brush or standard pet toothbrush).

Cats are intelligent creatures, so keeping treats nearby can help keep them distracted and incentivized before and after cleaning. It is a common misconception that older cats cannot be trained. However, if you have an older cat that is resistant or could become stressed when brushing their teeth, a good strategy would be to provide them with dental treats.


Cat Dental Care Products

When establishing your cat’s cleaning routine, it is important to look into different types of products that suit your individual cat’s needs. The types of products your cat will respond best to have a lot to do with how tolerant and familiar they are with having you near their mouth. Below is a list of five cat dental care products that can help you keep your cat’s teeth clean no matter their personality type or level of patience.

  1. Oratene Complete Oral Care Kit: This kit includes a brushless toothpaste gel, breath freshener, and a flavorless water additive. It’s a great all-in-one solution to help remove plaque, freshen breath, and kill germs.
  2. Vetality Brush Free Oral Gel for Cats: This once-a-week treatment is perfect for feisty cats. It’s chicken-flavored, requires no brushing, reduces plaque and tartar buildup, and freshens your cat’s breath. Plus, it whitens and brightens their teeth.
  3. V.P.S. Oral Dental Rinse, 8oz: A palatable, fresh, anti-microbial formula for reducing plaque, and freshening breath in dogs and cats. Contains anti-microbial, anti-plaque, and anti-calculus properties to aid in tooth and gum disease prevention.
  4. Oratene Complete Oral Care Kit: Oratene utilizes the patented Zymox Three Point Enzyme System which has been proven to be antibacterial and antifungal to safely and effectively treat even the most severe infections of the mouth.
  5. HomeoPet Feline Purr Dental: Remove plaque and tartar easily and naturally with this fast-acting liquid. You can add it to clean water twice a day, put it directly in your cat’s mouth, or give it with a meal.

The main thing you need to remember is that regular veterinarian visits are the only way to assist and prevent in fighting dental disease.


For more information on the different types of cat dental care products and how they can help your feline, check out Jeffers’ blog Cat Dental Care: When Toothbrushes Aren’t Enough.

The information given is meant to be helpful and/or educational. It is, in no way intended to supersede, challenge or supplant the diagnosis, treatment, or advice of a licensed veterinarian.