What is involved in cat dental care?

So ideally we would have you come in once a year so we can assess your cat's mouth. Certain cats get this very specific dental disease called neck lesions, and those are very painful. We don't really know the cause of them, we don't know why some cats get them and some cats don't, and you're not going to know about it because your cat is never going to let you know. So we want to see your cats once a year. And then after that, once we assess them and decide whether or not they need dentistry or not. If the cat is younger and they have a healthy mouth, we'll have you start brushing the teeth, and I'm going to show you how to brush their teeth. It's amazing how many cats can be trained very well to have their teeth brushed once a day. You can get it done in just a couple minutes and it can make a huge difference in the health of your cat's mouth.

Dr. Michele Drake
Drake Center For Veterinary Care

What types of dental care should I be giving my cat at home?

We want you to feed cats a healthy diet, ensure they're well exercised and cared for, and then most important is we want you to brush their teeth. And we have a tiny brush that's made specifically for a cat and we have chicken and salmon flavored toothpaste, which sounds disgusting to us but cats tolerate it really well, and it's helpful for keeping their mouths healthy.

What are some signs and symptoms of issues with oral health in my cat?

Cats won't let you know when they have pain in their mouth, and I can assure you that cats with resorptive lesions and periodontal disease do have pain. So we're going to want to have a peek at the exam and let you know. Otherwise you're going to notice smelly breath. If you're able to see their mouth you would see redness along the gum line, but it's hard for you to assess that unless you were pulling their gum way back, which most cats don't really like. So come here once a year and let us have a peek.

How do veterinarians diagnose dental problems in cats?

When you bring your cat in here for their annual, we're able to see a lot, and we can tell what's going on in your cat's mouth. And then when we're doing a dental procedure, if they are indeed due for having their teeth cleaned, we take an x-ray in addition to checking the pockets of the gums and such to determine if they have periodontal disease. The x-rays are essential to determine whether or not that tooth is diseased.

What are some possible conditions caused by poor cat dental care, and what are the treatments?

So again, the resorptive lesions are these lesions that you can see just at the gum line and they go underneath the gum line to the root of the tooth. Those are extremely painful. Gingivitis is where there's redness along the gum and that's an infection right at the line of the tooth. They're smelly and painful. And periodontal disease is a more severe situation where the disease is going up underneath the gum line and causing problems with the whole tooth. We see broken teeth in cats as well. We also see other things like tumors and such, and those are things we're going to find on an oral exam. So you need to have us take a peek in the mouth at least once a year and twice a year for cats that are older than 10.

If you still have other questions and you'd like to reach out to us, you can call us directly at (760) 753-9393, you can email us, or you can reach out on social media. But please do reach out, and we'll get back to you as fast as we can.

Cat Dentistry/Dental FAQs

Dr. Michele Drake
Drake Center For Veterinary Care

How often should I brush my cat's teeth?

Ideally, you'll brush them once a day. And if your cat gets used to brushing once a day, it can become part of the routine. You can even give them a little treat, which seems counterintuitive after you brush them, but the idea is that we get that brush going up along the gum line. So if they're brushed every day it's ideal, but if you did it every other day, it's going to be great too. So really whatever you can do is helpful, but the more often you do it, the better.

Are there any tips for making brushing my cat's teeth easier?

We've got a great video online that shows you how to do this. Also, when you're in here for the exam, our technicians are awesome at showing you. We have brushes that are made specifically for cats and paste that's made specifically for cats that has flavors like chicken and salmon, which they love.

What products should I use when I brush my cat's teeth?

So most importantly, you want to get those products from us because the kind of products you use does matter with how much your cat is going to accept them and the fact that you know how to do it. So we're going to show you when you're here, and we'll show you what products to use. And again, we'll give you some tips and then we have a video online where you can look and learn how to do that.

Can I use human toothpaste on my cat?

Absolutely do not use human toothpaste on your cat. They do not like the taste of it, and it's not meant to be swallowed, so it can cause a stomach upset. Do not use anything but cat toothpaste.

Do I still need to brush my cat's teeth if I give them dental treats?

Dental treats can be helpful, but they're not nearly as helpful as going ahead and brushing them every single day.

Can cats get cavities?

Yes, cats can get something similar, although it's not the same cavities as humans get. We refer to this as the resorptive lesion and it's a very severe disease of the tooth that goes down into the root, and it's very painful. So we want to have a peek in that mouth and do x-rays when we see signs that they have a resorptive lesion. Again, these are very painful and we want to address that. So make sure you bring your cat in at least once a year, or twice a year if they're older than 10 years old.

If you still have other questions and you'd like to reach out to us, you can call us directly at (760) 753-9393, you can email us, or you can reach out on social media. But please do reach out, and we'll get back to you as fast as we can.