Vet Blog

How To Brush Your Cat’s Teeth

April 23, 2021

Brushing your cat's teeth is very important to her overall health.

Over 50% of all cats over three years old have developed the periodontal disease as a result of plaque and tartar buildup. While periodontal disease cannot be eliminated once it develops, it can be prevented and its progression can be considerably slowed down with at-home brushing.

Periodontal Disease in Cats

Periodontal disease starts out as gingivitis, or inflammation of the gums. You may notice a pink or red stripe along the gumline of the larger back teeth in your cat's upper jaw, which is a telltale sign of gingivitis. Gingivitis develops when the plaque on your cat's teeth thickens and hardens over time, forming tartar, a substance that cannot be removed with just brushing alone. By brushing, you can effectively remove softer plaque before it turns into tartar.

If gingivitis is left untreated, it can progress into severe periodontitis, which can damage the bone around the tooth and the periodontal ligament holding your cat's tooth in the bone socket. This is very painful for your cat, and will inevitably lead to tooth loss. Because of this, it is important to brush your cat's teeth regularly at home, if possible.

How to Brush Your Cat's Teeth

While some cats may never let you brush their teeth, you may be able to get your cat to allow you to brush their teeth with some patience and persistence. By following these steps, you can make brushing an easier experience for you and your cat.

1. Use the Right Tools.

Use a cat-specific toothbrush and cat toothpaste for the best results. Human toothpaste should not be used for cats, and cat toothpaste can make the process easier as it comes in a variety of flavors your cat may enjoy, like seafood or chicken flavor.

2. Start Young.

Earlier is always better when it comes to acclimating your cat to anything, but tooth brushing is particularly important. Kittens are usually much less resistant to brushing than older cats.

3. Choose a Calm Environment.

Brush your cat's teeth in a comfortable place so that they are more relaxed throughout the process. Her favorite resting spot or your lap are good places to try and brush her teeth.

4. Go Slowly.

Go slowly, allowing her to lick toothpaste from the toothbrush at first and then working up to actually getting the brush in her mouth. It could take a few weeks for her to accept the whole process.

5. Know where to Brush.

You likely won't have a wide window of tolerance while brushing your cat's teeth, so focus your efforts on the outside, or cheek-facing surfaces, especially in the upper jaw. The upper back teeth tend to have the most plaque and tartar buildup on them.

6. Be Patient And Realistic.

Some cats may never let you brush your teeth. It shouldn't be a battle every time you try to do it. If your cat isn't willing to have her teeth brushed, she may just need more frequent professional cleanings.

Dental Care for Cats in Castle Pines and Castle Rock

By providing your cat with home dental care, which is a 2-3 minute commitment twice per day, your pet's risk and severity of the periodontal disease will decrease, and her overall health and wellness will improve. In addition to brushing at home regularly, your cat should also have regular dental cleanings and exams to maintain proper oral health.

At Animal Care Center of Castle Pines, we perform a Comprehensive Oral Health Assessment and Treatment (COHAT) with full-mouth radiographs on each patient to ensure that we are properly evaluating all of the oral structures including underneath the gums. Contact us by calling 303-688-3660 or by sending a message to to schedule an appointment today.