know your dna logo
search iconmenu Icon

Cat Dental Health Test & Dental Care

Updated on September 15, 2021
Written by
Joel
KnowYourDNA is reader-supported. This means we may receive a commission when you buy something from one of the links on this page.

Regular dental care is vital to your cat's general wellbeing and will enable him or her to enjoy years of healthy and happy fun. In this article, we discuss all you need to know on the subject.

Why should you be so concerned about your cat's dental hygiene?

Proper cat dental care prevents or limits the risk of gum disease, which can become periodontal disease if it spreads to the teeth. 

Periodontal disease is the most common illness in cats older than three years. Unfortunately, it is also the most unrecognized because most pet owners do not appreciate the importance of cat dental hygiene. Proper dental hygiene for your cat, along with dental testing, will help you keep them happy.

Can dental disease kill a cat?

Excessive plaque, tooth decay, and tartar don’t just cause dental problems in cats. They can also cause other medical conditions in the liver, heart, and kidneys. Many of these can be fatal. Unfortunately, cats rarely exhibit signs of pain. Most will adapt by swallowing dry food whole or chewing on one side of the mouth. There might still be subtle behavioral changes, though, like irritability and bad breath. Other signs may include;   

  • Drooling      
  • Tooth loss     
  • Pawing at the mouth      
  • Grooming less often or not at all

How can I tell if my cat's teeth are healthy?

You will need to examine his or her mouth. First, smell your cat’s breath. Cats aren’t supposed to have halitosis (bad breath), so an unpleasant odor indicates something is wrong. Take your pet to the veterinarian for a thorough examination as he or she could have a bone or gum infection.

Next, examine the teeth. Starting with one side of the mouth, study your cat's back teeth. Look for yellowing (a sign of plaque) or darker material, along with any broken or cracked teeth. Next, examine the gums. They should have a pink color, not red or pale. The gum should not grow over the teeth. If you notice this, it could be a sign that something is wrong. Remember to reward your cat when you've finished. A dental chew would be an excellent choice for the occasion.

Note: You can also purchase a dental health test for your cat. Base paws cat dental health test analyzes your cat's saliva to identify microbial signatures for the most common dental illnesses in cats like Tooth Resorption, Periodontal disease, and bad breath. 

What is Basepaws Cat Dental Health Test?

Using a saliva sample taken from your cat, Basepaws Cat Dental Health Test will analyze your cat's saliva to determine the presence of certain microbes. These commonly cause cat dental problems. 

Cat Dental Health Test & Dental Care 6
BasePaws

The Dental CatKit 

Basepaws' Dental health test screens over 1000 microbes in your cat's mouth to identify disease signatures before they present visible signs. This information empowers veterinarians to provide comprehensive cat dental care.

Basepaws' Dental health test screens over 1000 microbes in your cat's mouth to identify disease signatures before they present visible signs. This information empowers veterinarians to provide comprehensive cat dental care.

If you want to prevent cat dental problems like tooth resorption, bad breath,  periodontitis, gingivitis, and periodontal disease, this is the test that you need.

How the BasePaws Dental Health care test works

The test will arrive a few days after you make an order. It will provide detailed instructions on collecting a sample, along with a barcode registration on the inside of the CatKit box. After you've collected a sample, mail it back to BasePaws in the provided packaging (It's prepaid, so you don't need to buy a stamp). You'll have a report within six weeks after BasePaws confirms they received your sample.

Although the BasePaws' test does not replace the need to take your cat to a veterinarian, it is highly effective at screening for dental conditions like Halitosis and Periodontal Disease. It is also the only feline dental disease screening test available for both home and veterinary use.

Brushing your cat's teeth at home

Brushing your cat’s teeth is relatively easy if you know how to go about it. It will help prevent dental disease, particularly if his or her dental health test results return positive. 

You can start your pet on this routine at any age. However, the younger they are, the easier it will be for them to adapt. Older cats may require a slower and gentler approach. Although not all cats will tolerate it, many will, and it is an effective way to maintain oral health.

What you'll need     

  • A toothbrush - this should be designed specifically for cats. Remember to keep a separate toothbrush for each cat as saliva can be a significant cause of cross-infection.
  • Cat toothpaste - Cat toothpaste is different from human toothpaste, which is known to cause gastric irritation in felines. It comes in flavors like fish, beef, or mint. You should try each one to determine which your cat likes most.

Note: remember to use appropriate equipment for your pet. Avoid human dental products, as they may harm your cat. You can get the right tools from your veterinarian’s office.

Procedure

Your pet needs to trust you before he or she lets you anywhere near their mouth, so it’s going to take a while to brush their teeth at first. Once you've established familiarity, the process should become a lot easier.

Here's what you'll need to do.    

  1. For the first few days or weeks (depending on how long it takes for your cat to become comfortable), build trust with your cat by offering him or her a small amount of toothpaste on your finger. Some cats will enjoy the taste, while others will express reluctance. If your pet doesn’t seem interested, try placing a small amount of the paste on their nose. Hopefully, they will lick it off, and once they've had a taste, they will readily take it from your hand.
  1. You should also take a few days to familiarize yourself with head positioning. Try this when your cat is sleepy so you don’t startle him or her (you'll need to do it while they're awake if you're really going to brush). Try it several times every day to build confidence.
  1. Put the palm of your hand on your cat's head, but toward the back (spread your hand wide, as you will need a firm but gentle grip). It’s usually better to keep the cats back toward you while you do this instead of approaching him or her head-on. Besides being less aggressive, it gives you better control. 

Once your cat becomes comfortable with this process, it’s time to brush his or her teeth.

  1. Repeat step 3 (above)
  2. Use your thumb and second finger to grip around the cheekbone beneath the eyes. Your index finger should not cover your cat's eyes.
  3. Point your cat's head upwards and use your thumb to carefully lift your cat's upper lip.
  4. Use your thumb or finger on your other hand to pull down your cat's lower lip. This should give you a decent view of all the teeth on one side of your cat's face.
  5. Gently apply the brush along the area where the gum tissue touches the teeth. This is where plaque accumulates, and gingivitis is most likely to start. Focus on cleaning the large cheek teeth and canines first. Don’t worry about the tips or insides of the teeth if your cat isn’t cooperative. Most damage starts on the roots and outer surfaces of the teeth.

Alternatives

Besides brushing your cat’s teeth, you may give them dental chews. You can get these at your veterinarian or from a pet shop. They come in various flavors and can help reduce (not eliminate) plaque.

You may also use chlorhexidine mouthwashes or gels. It provides antibacterial effects that last a few hours and is largely safe. This is most useful in situations where brushing the cat's teeth at home is difficult.

Which brush is best for your cat?

There are several brush types designed for household cats.

They include

  • Brushes with angled handles
  • Finger brushes (designed to fit over your finger).
  • You also may use a very soft human toothbrush (like the one used on human babies). Check with a veterinarian if you are unsure of which brush to use.

Best cat toothpaste

Cat Dental Health Test & Dental Care 7

Petrodex Dental Kit for Cats, Malt flavored toothpaste.

This product ships with a comprehensive kit that includes toothpaste, an angled toothbrush, and a finger toothbrush. The hydrogen peroxide-based enzymatic toothpaste formula reduces plaque and tartar. It does not foam and doesn’t require rinsing.

Cat Dental Health Test & Dental Care 8

Vetoquinol Enzadent Enzymatic Toothpaste

Enzadent doesn’t come with a toothbrush, but it is non-foaming, safe to swallow, and it contains a triple enzyme formula that removes plaque and food particles from your pet's teeth.

Cat Dental Health Test & Dental Care 9

Virbac C.E.T. Oral Hygiene Kit.

Vibrac is a chicken-flavored toothpaste designed for adult cats. The product comes with a double-sided toothbrush and finger toothbrush.

How to prevent dental problems in cats

It is estimated that about 70% of adult cats develop some type of dental disease. Fortunately, most of these are treatable or preventable with effective dental monitoring and care. 

Schedule a routine cat dental care appointment with a trained and experienced veterinarian every year. Healthy cats have good dental health. This means that they don’t have irritated or inflamed gums, periodontitis gum disease, and other gum diseases. Only a thorough exam can check for these conditions. This is why periodic veterinary checkups are a must.

Cat Dental Health Test & Dental Care 6
BasePaws

The Dental CatKit 

Basepaws' Dental health test screens over 1000 microbes in your cat's mouth to identify disease signatures before they present visible signs. This information empowers veterinarians to provide comprehensive cat dental care.

Joel
Content Contributor
Joel is a writer with a passion for the science of DNA and the power of its manipulation.
back to top