Cats Need Their Teeth Cleaned Too

feline dental disease,healthy gums and teeth,cat dental gel

Help Your Cat Avoid Costly and Painful Feline Dental Disease

If you are like most cat parents, you probably don’t think much–if at all–about your cat’s teeth and gums.  And if you’re like most people who have had a cat with painful feline dental disease, you probably had no idea that it was developing and that you could have taken a few steps to prevent the problem.  The fact is, cats do need their teeth cleaned too, just like we do, unless you feed your cat raw meaty chunks and bones 100% of the time.  It’s up to us to make sure our kitties do not suffer from painful dental disease.

Signs of Dental Disease

  • Red line along gum line.
  • Bad breath.
  • Tartar.
  • Yellow or brown teeth.
  • Drooling.
  • Not eating, eating very slow, or flicking food around while trying to eat.

70% of Cats Have Dental Disease by the Age of 3 and the Irony of Dry Food

The ironic part of this statistic (even stated on the website of a major pet food manufacturer of dry food) is that for many years, cat food manufacturers have promoted their dry cat food (aka kibble) to clean teeth…and the majority of cat parents feed their cats dry food 100% of the time.  So, why would SO MANY cats have dental disease?  My opinion and observation and that of most wellness-minded veterinarians–it’s not true.  Granted, a few cat parents who feed dry food have told me that their veterinarians have said that their cat’s teeth are clean and good.  I think this is more a rarity than common.  Cats are prone to dental disease.  (Just like they are prone to so many other health problems and viruses!)  I cover the subject about dry food and how it does not clean teeth — and even contributes to dental disease — more in depth in my value-packed report, 5 Myths About Cat Food That Endanger Your Cat’s Health and What to Do Instead.

The Carnivore Diet of Wild Cats Keeps Their Teeth Clean

Yes, it’s true.  Wild cats eat raw meat and bones, whether they are out in the wild or in a zoo or sanctuary.  The gnawing action on raw meat cleans their teeth.  The gnawing and crunching on bones cleans their teeth.  This gnawing also keeps their jaw bones strong and fit.  The jaw bones are where the teeth roots connect to and hold the teeth in.

feline dental disease,dental gel

Canned (aka wet) Food Does Not Clean a Cat’s Teeth

There is nothing about canned food that can clean the teeth.  Even ground raw meat cannot clean their teeth, although it’s less likely to contribute to dental disease because it is void of carbohydrates (aka starch, aka sugar).  I feed my cats raw meat–ground and chunked–once per day and canned food once per day. They get raw bones once per week.  Not all cats will eat bones, and two of mine do not. This is not good enough to keep their pearly whites pearly white.  Thus, we have to resort to dental cleaning.

The Month of February is Feline Dental Awareness Month

Your veterinary office may have sent you a notice about Feline Dental Awareness Month.  Trying to get your cat in for a dental cleaning is not just a way for them to milk more money out of you.  Your cat’s dental care is VERY IMPORTANT.  Do not underestimate this. Just as we go to the dentist one or two times per year for cleaning and x-rays, our kitties need it too.  Yes, a dental cleaning is quite expensive, although quite less expensive than taking care of feline dental disease in advanced stages.  Many veterinary clinics offer discounts on dental cleanings in February.  You may also be more wary of having cleanings done for an older cat due to the anesthesia.  Anesthesia has come a long way and is much safer than it used to be.  So what can you do in between these dental cleanings at the veterinarian?  Maybe even avoid them all together?


Brushing Your Cat’s Teeth

I’ll admit, I don’t even brush my cats’ teeth!  Oh, I tried, but the pet toothbrushes were too big.  I didn’t like the look of the ingredients in the pet toothpaste either, so I tried using just the toothbrush.  I have since discovered there is a toothbrush designed for a cat.  It’s the CET Oral Hygiene Kit by Virbac for cats.  A washcloth works just as well, and this is what I use occasionally along with a dental gel.  Some cats don’t mind having their teeth brushed, so it’s definitely worth the effort.  With the fact that cats don’t like to be bothered and don’t like change, it will take time and patience to get them accustomed to it, taking baby steps.  Again, worth the time and effort to avoid feline dental disease.

Dental Gels

Avoid Alcohol-Based Gels

Next to brushing, a good non-alcohol dental gel applied daily is your best bet.  There are a few brands out there.  Most of them contain quite questionable ingredients.  One of the most popular brands that you will see in pet stores and sold at veterinary clinics contains alcohol, and the salmon and mint flavors taste terrible!  Yes, I tried it.  The stuff smells so awful, I thought it can’t taste very good.  My poor babies, I had been forcing that stuff into their mouths for a month before I finally tasted it.  They certainly resisted the stuff.  In my quest to find a better dental gel, I found out that alcohol can be deadly for cats and dogs, even in tiny amounts.  And definitely when given daily over a period of time.  Their livers cannot process it.  Another OOPS!  Not only had I been giving them something that tasted nasty, I had been forcing alcohol in their mouths for a month before I learned that it is dangerous.  I figured “it must be safe if it’s in the product and being sold in veterinary clinics.”  Please avoid dental gels containing alcohol.

Superb Non-Alcohol Gel

The brand I now use contains no alcohol.  Almost odorless and almost tasteless.  It’s ingredients?  Simple, safe, and healthy:

  • Purified water
  • Organic grapefruit seed extract
  • Grape seed extract
  • Propolis extract
  • Xanthum gum (a thickener to make it gel)
  • Stevia (a safe sweetener)

dental gel for cats

The ingredients have positive properties:

  • Organic grapefruit seed extract and grape seed extract inhibit bacterial growth and strengthen the immune system
  • Bee propolis strengthens the health of the gums
  • Stevia is an antioxidant

To dissolve tartar, the company instructs to use two times daily for 30 days.  Results vary as far as how long it will take.  In some cases, the tartar will be gone before the 30 days.  After this period, the company states to use the gel once daily to prevent tartar. I wanted to test the gel with the continued once daily application.  After using this gel for over a year, I have not seen a once daily application prevent tartar for all cats.  Formation is slowed down, but not prevented.  Some cats form tartar quicker than others. Tiger has no tartar with once daily application.  The others develop tartar with once daily application.  It is still necessary to remove the tartar.  I have done this by flicking it off with my thumbnail.  A veterinarian even did this for one of my cats once.  He basically put himself out of a dental cleaning job.  If that doesn’t work, I also have a professional dental kit with a pick (yes, it’s very sharp and care must be taken) and a scraper.  I learned it is very important to continue with twice daily application to prevent tartar, or I will have to remove tartar myself.  My cats don’t care for neither the twice daily application or having me remove tartar.  But, oh well, such is a cat’s life.  I always ask them, would you rather go to the vet and be put under anesthesia?  That means a needle stuck in your vein? Meh, they say.

Feline Dental Disease and Bacteria

The Dentasure ingredients prevent bacterial growth, which is the main cause of plaque.  Plaque hardens and becomes tartar.  Bacteria lives in this environment, which irritate the gums.  The bacteria can and will enter the bloodstream via the gums.  In advanced gum/dental disease, this bacteria can enter organs, breaking them down.  Death can result from advanced dental disease due to the bacterial infection.

A cat’s upper molars are where tartar develops.  Their tongues keep the bottom teeth clean.  The back upper molar has a crevice (as can be seen in this photo), where tartar easily develops.  When it goes a long time, it will turn brown.  It will deteriorate the tooth and can be very painful.  There is no way that dry food or any dental cleaning treats can clean that crevice out!

feline dental disease,cat teeth

How to Get Your Cat to Accept Dentasure and Your Finger in Her/His Mouth

In summary, cleaning your cat’s teeth is very important for healthy teeth and gums.  Give Dentasure a try.  Make it a part of your cat’s overall thriving health regimen. Check it out here:  DENTASURE, and make sure to order the gel, not the spray.  Gel is the better form for cats.

Here’s how to train your cat to receive dental care.  I would like to have a video or photos of me doing this for you.  However, I don’t.  The process is unplanned and quick.

  1. For a few days to a week (depending on your cat), just start lightly stroking or rubbing her cheeks when you are cuddling.  Do this several times per day.  (Surely, you are cuddling several times a day!)
  2. For a few days to a week, touch/stroke her lips while doing baby talk.  You know….that cute little kitty talk we do.
  3. For a few days to a week, now just casually slip your finger between his lips and slide along the upper teeth for a second or two.
  4. Next, you’ll be sliding your finger further back to reach the back upper teeth.  You may feel the hard, somewhat rough tartar if there is any.  It’s going quite well?  Good.  You’ve got this!
  5. Now it’s time for Dentasure gel application.  Shake well first, but not in front of your cat!  Let her or him know by gently speaking to your cat in your mind that you are going to be giving him some dental gel.  It’s an energetic thing–send the vibes. Place a little bit on your index finger.
  6. Let’s say you are treating the right side of the mouth first.  Place the gel on your left finger.  From behind your cat’s head, place your other left 3 fingers under her chin with your left index finger free with the gel on it.  
  7. Use the right index finger to pull up the right upper lip.  Slide your left index finger onto the right side upper teeth and back and forth a few times.  Keeping your left fingers under the chin decreases them from opening their mouth to try and quickly lick away the gel off the teeth.  Voila!  You did it!  NOTE:  you may want to practice this a few days without the gel, so that you can become accustomed to the best way and be comfortable and confident with it yourself.  
  8. Now for the other side.  In case you need it….
  9. Treating the left side of kitty’s mouth.  Place the gel on your right finger.  From behind your cat’s head, place your other right 3 fingers under her chin with your right index finger free with the gel on it.
  10. Use the left index finger to pull up the right upper lip.  Slide your right index finger onto the left side upper teeth and back and forth a few times.
  11. Be sure to close the bottle nozzle, or the gel left in the nozzle will dry and clog the nozzle.

THOUGHT ABOUT DITCHING THE “UNNATURAL” DRY FOOD AND FEEDING CANNED OR RAW FOOD?  Have you tried to make the switch without success or considering it but don’t know how to be successful?  Get a guiding hand with my personalized one-on-one Thrive Program.  Get the most out of your cat’s nine lives:  THRIVE PROGRAM

See Opal, the scrappy stray cat, and her transformation to a beauty with the Thrive Program.


Kim Staley
Healthy Life Cat Coach

How to Avoid Painful Feline Dental Disease

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