How to Care for Your Cat's Teeth

Learn how often to brush your cat’s teeth.

Did you know that many cats have dental disease by the time they are two or three years of age? It's true—and it only gets worse as they get older.

Plaque and bacteria on the teeth lead to tartar, gum disease, loosening of teeth, and tooth root abscesses. That means pain and suffering for your cat. Not only that, but the bacteria present in the mouth are swallowed and can negatively affect a cat's general health, for example, damaging heart valves.

It's crucial that you place good dental health at a spot of high priority in your feline health care routine.

Basic Dental Care for Cats

Ideally, your cat's teeth should be cared for by brushing at home routinely. If you can do so daily, that is ideal, but at least shoot for two to three times a week.

Brushing a cat's teeth can be challenging, and you shouldn't risk a cat bite to do so. Instead, start your cat off with tooth-brushing at as young an age as possible. Go slowly and be sure to stay positive and reward your cat at each step of the learning process. Here are some tips for teaching your cat to allow tooth-brushing:

Stay calm and positive during the training process. It might take many sessions of creeping forward little by little, but it will be worth it for your cat's health to keep trying.

Use rewards at every step of the process. These can include both verbal praise/petting and edible treats. Make the experience as positive as possible each time, so your cat begins to look forward to the sessions.

Routine Dental Cleanings Are Necessary

In addition to home dental care, cats need their teeth periodically professionally cleaned under anesthesia. That is the only way to clean plaque out from under the gum-line and off the insides of the teeth. It also allows an extremely thorough exam of the mouth, x-rays of the roots of the teeth, and extraction of diseased teeth.

At your cat's routine veterinary visits, the doctor will examine your cat's teeth and help you decide how often she should have professional cleanings done. Annual dental cleanings beginning around a year or two of age are ideal for most, but some cats require them more frequently, especially as they get older.

If your cat just won't allow you to do home dental care, professional cleanings will probably need to be done more frequently. Ask your veterinarian for recommendations on dental treats and water additives that can help keep the plaque in your cat's mouth as controlled as possible, understanding that nothing will work as well as brushing.

Remember, humans floss once a day and brush twice a day and still require professional dental cleanings twice a year for maximum dental health.

Disclaimer: This website is not intended to replace professional consultation, diagnosis, or treatment by a licensed veterinarian. If you require any veterinary related advice, contact your veterinarian promptly. Information at is exclusively of a general reference nature. Do not disregard veterinary advice or delay treatment as a result of accessing information at this site.