How to prevent your cat's teeth from becoming infected

September 17, 2014

Infected teeth in cats can be a real problem. Without proper care, plaque and tartar leads to infection. Here is how you can prevent teeth infections in your cat.

It is believed that most cats will have some form of dental disease by the time they are three-years-old. Most domestic cats have a narrow diet of prepared foods that does little to help keep their teeth clean.

Why do cat teeth get infected?

Genetics influence whether or not a cat is likely to experience periodontal disease, meaning any disease around the outside of the tooth. Certain breeds of cats including Abyssinians, Oriental breeds and Persians are more susceptible to dental disease. Dental disease may also result from overcrowded teeth, where a crowded alignment can make it difficult to properly clean between teeth.


The first stage of a cat teeth infection is gingivitis. The gum tissue (gingiva) around the tooth is red and inflamed. Plaque, a light film of bacteria on the surface of the tooth, and tartar build-up are the most common underlying cause. Removing plaque and tartar is the best defense in preventing gingivitis from advancing. With active care, it is possible to reverse dental disease at this stage.

Cats lose their deciduous or “baby” teeth around five months of age. This can cause a disturbance along the gum line, and they may develop a mild form of gingivitis. It will usually clear up within a few weeks.


By this point, the infection has advanced to the tooth’s root, surrounding tissue and even the bone supporting the tooth.

Advanced periodontitis results in chronic inflammation and infection that destroys the tooth root structure. Infection can spread to other areas of the mouth and even major organs. Tooth extraction is the only option at this point.


Regular cleaning and maintenance of your cat’s teeth is your best defense against dental disease. A daily combination of teeth brushing and special attention to diet can decrease plaque build-up and prevent tartar formation.

  • Inspect your cat’s teeth regularly. By the time symptoms are identified, it can be too late to reverse gum disease.
  • Incorporate some dry kibble and cat treats that can encourage teeth penetration and cause an abrasive, scraping action against teeth as they chew.
  • There are products you can add to your cat’s drinking water that are designed to help minimize plaque and tartar formation.
  • Brush your cat’s teeth regularly. Use a brush and toothpaste specifically designed for cats. (Human toothpaste can make cats nauseous.) Brush the outside of teeth in a circular motion, especially around the gum line.
  • Your vet should examine your cat’s teeth annually during a check-up. If your cat has already had dental issues, then a check-up every three-to-six months is appropriate.

Your cat won’t likely show signs of discomfort until it’s too late to rectify the situation. Take care of your cat’s teeth regularly to avoid infected cat teeth and gums.

How to prevent your cat's teeth from becoming infected
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