Clean Your Cat’s Teeth Naturally With These Simple Home Remedies

Why it’s important to clean your cat’s teeth

Keeping your cat’s teeth clean is critical for their overall health. According to research, between 50-90% of cats over 4 years old suffer from some form of dental disease (https://www.vet.cornell.edu/departments-centers-and-institutes/cornell-feline-health-center/health-information/feline-health-topics/feline-dental-disease). Poor dental health can lead to plaque and tartar buildup, gum disease, and tooth decay. By cleaning your cat’s teeth regularly, you can prevent these problems.

Feline dental disease starts when plaque forms on the teeth. Within days, this plaque hardens into tartar which can cause inflammation and infection in the gums. This condition, known as gingivitis or periodontal disease, allows bacteria to enter the bloodstream and damage internal organs like the heart, kidneys and liver (https://vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/dental-disease-in-cats).

In addition to impacting overall health, dental disease makes eating difficult and painful for cats. Food can get caught in gaps between teeth and swollen gums. By keeping your cat’s teeth clean, you allow them to comfortably and properly chew their food.

Regular dental care removes plaque and tartar, preventing gingivitis, tooth decay, and damage to internal organs. It also lets cats enjoy their meals without discomfort. Keeping your cat’s teeth clean improves their quality of life in many ways.

Brushing your cat’s teeth

Brushing your cat’s teeth is the most effective way to clean their teeth and prevent plaque buildup. When selecting a toothbrush, use a soft-bristled brush designed specifically for cats. Hard bristles can damage your cat’s gums. Look for a brush with a small head that can easily fit in your cat’s mouth.

Only use toothpaste made for cats, never use human toothpaste which can upset your cat’s stomach. Cat toothpaste comes in appetizing flavors like poultry or fish to make the experience more enjoyable. Apply a small amount of toothpaste to the brush. Gently brush along the gumline in a circular motion, avoiding the tongue and roof of the mouth. Take your time and keep sessions brief when first introducing tooth brushing.

With patience and positive reinforcement, regular tooth brushing can become part of your cat’s routine.

Dental treats and chews

Dental treats and chews are a great way to help clean your cat’s teeth at home in between professional cleanings. When choosing dental treats and chews for your cat, it’s important to look for products that have the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC) Seal of Acceptance. The VOHC is an organization that independently tests and approves dental products, so their seal means the product has gone through rigorous testing to ensure safety and dental health effectiveness (Source).

Some top VOHC approved cat dental chews include Greenies Cat Dental Treats, CET Chews for Cats, and Virbac C.E.T. Enzymatic Oral Hygiene Chews (Source). You’ll also want to look for dental treats and chews that have crunchy textures, as the abrasive texture helps scrape away tartar and plaque. Softer, chewy treats don’t provide the same mechanical cleaning for your cat’s teeth (Source).

Offer dental treats daily as part of your cat’s routine and make sure to monitor your cat while they are eating to ensure the treat is adequately scraped by their teeth. Vet approved dental chews and crunchy treats are an easy way to promote good oral hygiene.

Dental Diets

Dental diets are formulated with cat’s dental health in mind. The kibble texture in dental diets helps clean away plaque and tartar as cats chew 1. Kibbles are usually larger and denser than regular cat food. This texture provides an abrasive action that scrapes plaque and tartar off the teeth.

Some dental diet brands like Hill’s Prescription Diet t/d and Royal Canin Dental have actual clinical studies showing their food reduces plaque and tartar in cats 2. So these dental diets have scientific evidence demonstrating their effectiveness for feline dental health.

Some top recommended dental diet brands are Hill’s Science Diet Oral Care, Royal Canin Dental, and Iams ProActive Health Dental Care. Feeding a dental diet specifically formulated to clean teeth and reduce plaque is an easy way to promote good oral hygiene for cats.

Dental Wipes

Dental wipes provide a convenient way to clean your cat’s teeth and gums at home. These disposable wipes contain solutions that help reduce plaque and tartar buildup. Most contain antiseptic ingredients like chlorhexidine, aloe, and enzymes that help kill bacteria in your cat’s mouth.

To use dental wipes, gently rub the wipe along your cat’s teeth and gums. Focus on the outer surfaces of the teeth, but also wipe the inner surfaces if your cat allows it. Avoid getting wipes near your cat’s throat to prevent choking. It’s best to establish this routine early so your cat gets used to the process.

Some popular dental wipe products for cats include Vet’s Best Dental Care Finger Wipes and the Petkin Dental Wipes Kitty Tongue & Teeth Wipes. Always follow package directions and talk to your vet if you have any concerns about using dental wipes on your cat.

Water additives

One way to help clean your cat’s teeth is to add an oral care solution to their drinking water. These solutions can reduce plaque buildup and fight bacteria in the mouth. According to this source, water additives like Oratene contain enzymes that help break down plaque. When your cat drinks water containing these additives, the enzymes help clean their teeth.

Some dental water additives for cats contain chlorhexidine, an antiseptic that reduces bacteria in the mouth. Products like Emmy’s Best and HealthyMouth include chlorhexidine along with other ingredients to promote dental health. The chlorhexidine rinses the mouth when your cat drinks.

Water additives are easy to use – simply add them to your cat’s drinking water according to the package directions. Over time, the solutions can gently reduce plaque and tartar buildup on your cat’s teeth.

Raw Bones

One way to naturally clean your cat’s teeth is by giving them raw, meaty bones to chew on (Source). Raw, uncooked bones are safe for cats to chew and gnaw on. The act of chewing helps scrape away tartar and plaque buildup on their teeth. Just like their wild relatives, domestic cats are well equipped to digest and consume raw bones.

It’s important that the bones are raw and uncooked. Cooked bones can splinter and pose a choking hazard (Source). Popular raw bone options include chicken necks, wings, and thighs. Make sure the bones you provide are from animals your cat would naturally hunt and consume. Monitor your cat while they chew on bones to prevent choking.

Greenies Dental Treats

Greenies are a popular dental treat for cats designed to clean teeth and control tartar and plaque buildup. According to Feline Greenies, these treats use a unique texture and shape to clean your cat’s teeth by reducing tartar and plaque as they chew. However, some precautions should be taken when feeding Greenies to cats.

Although Greenies are approved by the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC) for helping with dental health in cats, there are some concerns about their safety. Greenies can present a choking hazard for cats, especially if fed whole instead of broken into pieces. There have also been rare instances of Greenies causing obstructions or other issues if consumed in large quantities (Source).

It’s best to limit Greenies treats to the recommended feeding amount on the package. Break them into smaller pieces to reduce choking risk. Also use them as part of a broader strategy for feline dental health rather than relying solely on Greenies. Consult your vet about whether Greenies are appropriate for your cat. With some precautions, they can provide some dental benefits, but shouldn’t be considered a complete solution for cleaning your cat’s teeth (Source).

Regular vet cleanings

Regular professional cleanings by your veterinarian are essential for your cat’s dental health. Professional cleanings are done under anesthesia, which allows the vet to thoroughly clean all surfaces of the teeth. According to Chewy, cleanings should typically be done every 1-2 years. Under anesthesia, the vet can remove any stubborn tartar buildup under the gumline that cannot be reached through at-home brushing.

Tartar buildup leads to gingivitis and periodontal disease. A professional veterinary cleaning is the only way to fully remove this tartar and plaque accumulation under the gums. The vet will scale and polish each tooth to completely clean below the gumline. Regular professional dental cleanings are essential for cats to prevent dental disease and ensure your cat’s ongoing dental health.

Signs your cat may need dental care

There are several signs that may indicate your cat is suffering from dental issues and needs care:

Bad breath – Also known as halitosis, persistent bad breath is one of the most common signs of dental disease in cats. Bacteria buildup on the teeth and gums produces foul smelling gases that lead to bad breath (VCA).

Red or swollen gums – Inflammation and reddening of your cat’s gums is called gingivitis and is an early stage of periodontal disease. Swollen gums indicate infection (Cornell).

Loose or discolored teeth – Yellow or brown buildup on teeth or teeth that are loose and ready to fall out are signs of advanced dental disease (PetMD).

Difficulty eating – Your cat may show signs of discomfort or difficulty chewing dry food. Cats with dental pain tend to chew only on one side of their mouth (PetMD).

Drooling – Excessive drooling is an obvious sign your cat is having trouble keeping their mouth comfortable due to dental issues (VCA).

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