How To Examine Your Cat's Teeth and Gums

Cat yawning
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A critical part of a dental care program for cats is ​a routine at-home examination of his teeth and gums. Here are tips for making it easy on both of you.

Difficulty: Average

Time Required: 1-2 minutes 2-3 times monthly

Here's How:

  1. Smell your cat's breath. An unpleasant odor can indicate ​an infection of the gums and/or bone. After eliminating dental problems, check with your vet for other causes.
  2. While quietly talking to your cat, from his back side, tip his head back slightly.
  1. Using your thumb and index finger, spread the side of his mouth open. Make sure you have a good light.
  2. Look at his back teeth for yellowing (plaque) or darker material (tartar). Check for cracked or broken teeth. Observe the color of the gums - they should be a healthy pink, not an angry red or a pale pink.
  3. Repeat step 4 with the front teeth, then move to the other side of the mouth.
  4. Look into the back of the cat's throat for redness, especially "cobblestone" in appearance. This is a sign of stomatitis, a serious and painful condition usually found in older cats. An angled dental mirror will help here.
  5. If at any time your cat fights your attention, give it up and try another day.
  6. Reward your cat with a treat. A dental chew would be an excellent choice.
  7. Once you and your cat are comfortable with this procedure, make it a regular practice (at least once a month.)
  8. Follow up with a veterinary exam once a year, or twice a year if your cat has previous dental problems.


    1. It may be easier to have a partner hold the cat's mouth open while you examine the oral cavity.
    2. Choose a comfortable spot with good lighting. A small penlight would be an asset.

    What You Need: