Kitten Basics: Taking Care of Your Kitten’s Oral Health

Taking care of a kitten is a big responsibility. But in addition to nutritious food, a warm place to sleep and plenty of play time, did you know kittens also need their teeth cleaned on a daily basis? Seventy percent of cats show signs of oral and dental disease by age 3 — but that doesn’t mean your kitten has to be among them. Here’s what you can do to take care of your kitten’s oral health.

kitten on blanket yawning
 

Your Kitten’s Dental Needs

There are three preventive measures you can take to ensure your pet’s oral hygiene doesn’t become a problem. They’re often referred to as the three D’s:
 

1. Defense

The first step in taking care of your kitten’s oral health is daily brushing. When you brush your kitten’s teeth, you remove plaque and slow the development of tartar. One of the easiest ways to do this is with a finger brush, which is available at most pet stores. Don’t forget to reward your kitten afterward with plenty of praise and play time!

 

2. Dentist

Just like you, your kitten could benefit from annual or semiannual teeth cleanings. Vets refer to the cleaning as a dental prophylaxis. Besides helping keep your cat’s teeth and gums healthy, it’s the only way to remove tartar.

 

3. Diet

Dry food can be especially beneficial for oral health because the mechanical brushing action of dry kibble helps remove plaque and works to scrub your kitten’s teeth clean.

 

How to Tell If Your Kitten Has a Dental Problem

If you’re concerned about the health of your kitten’s teeth and mouth, keep an eye out for these signs of dental disease.

 

Look for Plaque and Tartar

More than 300 types of bacteria naturally reside inside your kitten’s mouth. And when she eats, small food particles and saliva combine with the bacteria to form plaque. If plaque is left on the teeth, calcium in your pet’s saliva hardens it, resulting in a hard yellow-brown deposit on her teeth called tartar.

kitten on tree branch
 

Watch Your Kitten’s Behavior

Your kitten lets you know a lot about how she’s feeling through the way she behaves. The following behaviors can indicate an oral health issue or periodontal disease:

  • Difficulty eating or chewing
  • Excessive chewing
  • Pawing at the mouth
  • Irritability
  • Reluctance to chew toys
  • Depression

Of course, a lot of these symptoms could signify other health issues, so it’s important to let a trained professional diagnose any health problems your pet may be having.

Nobody likes to deal with dental issues, your pet included. And even though your kitten can’t talk, that doesn’t mean she isn’t in pain. But if you’re armed with the three D’s of dental hygiene, your furry friend is sure to be happy and healthy for many years to come.