Dental health tips for cats – Lincoln Journal Star

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Have you ever wondered why your vet takes a peek inside your cat’s mouth during a routine checkup? Well, it’s not just a casual curiosity; it is because cats can suffer from many of the same dental issues as humans.
Despite their stoic nature and high pain tolerance, cats can silently endure dental discomfort. Your vet is on the lookout for signs of periodontal disease such as inflammation and tissue loss around teeth. Depending on what they discover, a professional cleaning and even tooth extraction may be recommended.
Learning how to effectively brush your cat’s teeth could be the key to saving your feline friend from dental disease and yourself from hefty vet bills. While the idea of brushing your cat’s teeth may initially make you cringe, there are methods to teach your cat to tolerate this necessary intrusion.
Select the right tools
First and foremost, it’s crucial to use the right tools. Never use human toothpaste on your cat, as it can upset its stomach and contain unsafe levels of sodium. Opt for a pet toothpaste designed specifically for cats. These toothpastes work by breaking down enzymes that contribute to plaque and tartar buildup, which can lead to gum inflammation. Additionally, you’ll need a cat toothbrush. Starting with a finger-brush that fits onto your index finger can be the easiest way to begin.
Introduce tooth brushing gradually

Now that you have the necessary tools, it’s time to start the process. Begin during a quiet time in your home when your cat is relaxed. To avoid scratches or discomfort, place your cat on your lap over a thick towel or blanket if it resists. In the initial sessions, gently rub your finger or a soft cloth back and forth over the outer surfaces of your cat’s teeth. You don’t need to reach the inner portion of the teeth as a cat’s tongue usually takes care of that. Once your cat is comfortable with this process, let it taste a small amount of toothpaste from your finger. This helps it become accustomed to the taste and texture.
The full brushing routine
When both you and your cat are ready to progress, put some of the pet toothpaste on your chosen toothbrush. Place your free hand over your cat’s head, with your thumb resting on top, to gently angle its head upward. Use your index finger to raise your cat’s lips on one side. Now, place the toothbrush right along the gum line and work in gentle circular motions, starting at the back of the mouth. Make sure to brush both the upper and lower teeth, aiming for around 30 seconds on each side. After each session, thoroughly wash your hands and the toothbrush.
Maintaining good oral health
Regularly performing this brushing routine a few times a week will help eliminate harmful levels of plaque and tartar buildup on your cat’s teeth. Always check with your vet if you have any questions or concerns about your cat’s dental health.
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The Cat House is a 501(c)(3) organization; contributions may be tax-deductible. TCH is funded by donations and adoption fees and is staffed by volunteers.

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