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Dental Cleanings for Cats: Necessary or Needless?
Dental Health

Dental Cleanings for Cats: Necessary or Needless?

Could it be that your cat’s oral health is a window into their health? While there are many measurements that can help determine how healthy your cat is, don’t be surprised when your veterinarian spends some extra time examining your cat’s oral cavity. This is because cats can experience some serious and painful dental diseases that can shorten their lives-which is why we're going to dive into the role dental cleanings for cats can play in a cat's overall wellbeing.

Why Do Cats Need Regular Dental Cleanings?

The idea that dogs are the only species that need dental cleanings is a myth. Even though dogs have a tooth named after them, “the canines,” dental cleanings are just as vital for cats as they are for dogs. In fact, periodontal disease (or gum disease) is the most common health problem in cats of all ages

So the fact remains: a cat’s dental health can have a huge impact on their health and happiness. These effects make regular veterinary dental cleanings a must.

Why is Prevention the Purrfect Approach to Your Cat’s Dental Health?

Cats face many of the same dental diseases as people and dogs such as gingivitis and periodontitis. Unlike us, though, cats can also suffer from a feline-specific disease called tooth resorption which can be spotted during your cat’s cleaning.

“The cat’s mouth is the gateway into the body. The veterinarian plays a key role in keeping cat’s teeth and gums healthy. This goes far towards a long and comfortable life. Embracing the information gained from knowing the oral biome greatly aids in tailoring specific care for each cat.”



Many of these issues are difficult for vets to detect without a close inspection. And few cats enjoy showing off their pearly whites to their vets. So, when your cat is safely under anesthesia during their cleaning, your vet can take a closer look at the health of their teeth, gums, jawline, and overall mouth. This is extremely important when it comes to detecting the first signs of oral squamous cell carcinoma, a cancer of the mouth and the most common oral cancer in cats.

The Reality of Skipping Dental Cleanings for Cats

When not kept in check, tartar can lead to the weakening of teeth and the jaw. The result: a higher likelihood of broken and missing teeth, trouble eating, jaw fractures, and pain. Additionally, recent studies show a correlation between gum disease and an increased risk for systemic diseases for pets. 

How does your cat’s gumline affect their internal health?

When plaque and tartar build-up along your cat’s gum line causing gingivitis, the body sends white blood cells to the area to combat the problem. Over time, this erodes the gums, creating a pocket for bacteria in the mouth to sneak into your cat’s bloodstream. From there, the bacteria travel through the body wreaking havoc as they go. The kidneys, liver, and heart tend to be the most susceptible to the effects of these bacteria leading to systemic infection and disease. So, when your vet removes plaque and tartar around your cat’s gum line, they’re doing more than improving your cat’s breath. They’re helping prevent organ disease.

How Often Does Your Cat Need to Visit the ‘Kitty Dentist’?

There is no one-size-fits-all for how often your cat should get their teeth clean. The frequency all depends on your cat’s age, health, and genetic predisposition to dental disease.

Understanding your cat’s oral health on a microbial level can give you a better understanding of how healthy their mouth is. With one test, you can find out if your cat is at risk of developing periodontal disease and halitosis. You can also discover if your feline friend has the microbial signatures of tooth resorption. With this insight, you and your vet can make a more informed decision regarding your cat’s oral care.

What Does Your Cat Experience During a Dental Cleaning?

Most cat owners get a bit nervous about their cat’s dental cleaning. However, dental cleanings for cats are routine procedures. Plus, cats get the luxury of sleeping through their appointments. 

Worried about anesthesia? Each cat undergoing an anesthetic procedure receives careful, undivided attention, as the veterinary team closely manages a variety of monitoring devices to keep a close eye on your cat and ensure their anesthetic event is as safe as possible. If you have any questions prior to the procedure, it’s important to discuss your concerns with one of your vet hospitals’ highly trained veterinary technicians or veterinarians.

When your cat first arrives, the vet will review their records and do a preliminary exam and run bloodwork to ensure they’re a good candidate for anesthesia. Then your cat will be put under anesthesia. This ensures your cat remains calm and still and makes it much easier for the vet to work.

Once your cat is under, your vet will get a closer look at your cat’s teeth, gums, and mouth. If they notice any signs of disease, they will let you know. 

To clean your cat’s teeth, your vet will scrape away tartar above and below the gum line. Then the vet polishes your cat’s teeth to reduce future buildup.

What Can You Do at Home to Improve Your Cat’s Dental Health?

Your cat’s dental health benefits from ongoing maintenance between cleanings. To keep your cat’s teeth squeaky clean:

  • Feed your cat a diet designed to reduce plaque

  • Brush your cat's teeth daily

  • Use water additives that loosen plaque

  • Monitor your cat’s oral health and watch for signs of disease.

a man in a lab coat holding a bunch of kittens
a man in a lab coat holding a bunch of kittens

Don’t Delay Your Cat’s Dental Check-Up & Cleaning

Don’t let dental diseases take a bite out of your cat’s nine lives. Regular dental cleanings for cats are a must. With regular cleanings, a clear picture of your cat’s oral health, and some maintenance in between, you can provide your cat with a kissably fresh and healthy mouth. 

Want to gain greater insight into your cat’s oral health? Order our easy-to-use Basepaws Oral Health Test for Cats that detects the microbial signatures of the 3 most common dental health conditions in cats.