Tabby cat with clean teeth

Cat Teeth Cleaning: The Dos and Don'ts

by Sam Salvati - 11/29/19

We brush our own teeth regularly, but we often neglect the teeth of our pets. Although professional cat teeth cleaning cost can be beyond our ideal budget, there are plenty of ways to clean your cat’s teeth from home.

If you don't brush your cat's teeth, they could suffer from various cat teeth problems. Many cats who lack dental care contract feline tooth resorption, where the body essentially melts holes into the teeth. Although teeth cleaning can't entirely prevent this condition, it is known to combat it.

Another common dental illness in cats is gum disease. Cat gum disease can lead to bone loss or other more serious health conditions. With daily tooth cleaning starting at a young age, this disease can be entirely prevented.

Have your vet do an oral checkup before you brush your cat's teeth for the first time. If your cat has a pre-existing dental illness, she may resist any cleaning due to pain. Once the illness is treated, the cleaning can begin and should not cause any problems.

Before your first brushing, have your cat licks a little bit of toothpaste off your finger to get her used to the taste and feel. Then rub the paste around on her teeth as if your finger was a brush. Make sure the toothpaste you use is healthy for cats.

After you've tested the toothpaste, you're ready for a brush. Look for vet-recommended, human soft-bristle toothbrushes to minimize the disturbance for your furry friend. Only bother brushing the outer side (cheek-side) of the teeth because cat tongues are capable of cleaning the inner side. For more information on how to brush cat teeth, visit this site.

In order to brush your cat's teeth with as few problems as possible, attempt each step multiple times before advancing and use positive reinforcement training throughout the process. Many cats won't initially accept you digging your hands into their mouths, but by rewarding their positive behavior, you should be able to clean their teeth after a couple of weeks.

However, some cats will refuse you touching their teeth. In this case, explore non-brush teeth cleaning options in order to prevent dental problems.

Even with daily teeth cleaning at home, schedule a yearly visit with a professional to ensure complete dental health for your cat.

Pasadena native Sam Salvati is the adoring dog dad to Pablo, Ester and Farris. He enjoys keeping abreast of and writing about the latest developments in pet care.