Once plaque has changed into tartar, the preventative methods below will not be able to remove the build up and often the only option is a scale and polish, which requires a general anaesthetic.
Dental diets – This is the easiest option for cats
There are special diets (Hill’s t/d) available in a complete biscuit form that are proven to mechanically remove plaque from teeth (effectively like brushing), unlike normal dry food which has little effect on plaque. These diets are very effective as long as your cat chews his/her food. These are suitable for adult cats, so when your cat is swapping from kitten to adult food this is an ideal diet to choose.
Tooth brushing – This is an option, but not many cats will tolerate daily brushing!
You will need a (soft) toothbrush and a tooth paste formulated for pets. This is essential as human tooth pastes have a high fluoride content which can be toxic to cats and dogs. Their tooth paste also tastes nice to them (chicken/fish flavour!) which will hopefully make brushing a more positive experience.
Getting your pet used to being handled and touched around the mouth is a good first step. Always reward them afterwards e.g. praise, a treat or their dinner!
Start the process gradually, getting your pet used to you touching its gums, then brush one tooth a day. Move up to a couple of teeth per day, then one side per day. Eventually you should be able to brush the whole mouth, although there is no need to brush the inside of the teeth. The technique is really the same as for humans; a circular movement around the area where the tooth meets the gum.
There may be some bleeding to start with but this should stop once the plaque levels are reduced. If it doesn’t, please come in for a check with one of our Nurses. You need to brush daily to be effective.