Don’t try to scrape tartar from your cat’s teeth by yourself using your fingernail or any sharp instrument. You could easily hurt your cat or cause damage to the tooth surface or gums. When tartar is removed professionally, the teeth are then polished which makes it harder for the plaque to adhere in the future. If you attempt to scrape the teeth yourself, you risk actually scratching a tooth’s surface which creates an ideal environment for plaque to form.
Tips for Preventing Dental Disease in Your Cat
Brush Your Cat’s Teeth
The easiest way to help prevent dental problems is to keep plaque from building up and turning into tartar. Brushing your cat’s teeth is most effective, just as it is with brushing our own teeth.
Use only toothpaste made especially for pets that is designed to be swallowed. Toothpaste meant for humans isn’t safe for pets as it foams and isn’t intended to be swallowed. Human toothpaste contains ingredients that can cause serious irritation in pets. Pet toothpaste is also flavored to make it more appealing to your cat.
There are several types of pet toothbrushes available for taking care of your cat’s teeth. You can also just use a gauze pad, finger cot or Q-tip. I use a very soft baby toothbrush with my own cat but there are many options for you to choose from based on what you think will be most comfortable for your own kitty.
If your cat isn’t used to having her teeth brushed, you’ll have to go gently and first get her used to having her mouth touched. Initially, before using a toothbrush, place a small drop of toothpaste on your finger and gently rub along the teeth. If your cat won’t even accept that, try dipping your finger in a little tuna water instead of starting off with the toothpaste. Once your cat is comfortable with you rubbing her teeth, you can work up to using toothpaste.
If you can, brush your cat’s teeth every day. If you can’t do daily brushing, set a schedule so you get it done at least three or four times a week. If you make this casual and positive, it can be done quickly. Take the time in the beginning to get your cat accepting and comfortable with the procedure and then it’ll be easier to maintain. Don’t struggle with your cat or force the issue. Use positive training to gradually get your cat comfortable with every step. It’s worth the time and effort to make this quick and positive in order to be able to maintain a lifetime of good dental care.
If you’re unable to brush your cat’s teeth without risk of being bitten, talk to your veterinarian about a dental spray. Some products also come as a foam or gel. Although these products aren’t as effective as brushing, they may help slow some of the plaque and tartar formation.
Regular Veterinary Exams
Regular health exams are important for all aspect of a cat’s health. Since many cat parents don’t look in their cats’ mouths, a dental problem may not become obvious until it has progressed quite far along. Routine exams can catch developing problems much earlier.