Keep Calm and Brush On
Ever since Mannie developed a painful abscess in his tooth, which required complicated and expensive dental surgery, I vowed to include teeth brushing and gum massage into my cats' routine. Problem was, both cats came into my life when they were no longer kittens. Older cats don't like fingers being stuck into their mouth. Can you blame them? Mannie wouldn't let me near his. While Millie tolerated a gum massage for about half a second, then wriggled away.
With kittens, you can train them to accept a gentle gum massage, and eventually a small toothbrush with special toothpaste. I've seen this done many times at the rescue where I volunteer. They love getting their teeth brushed—to them it's like playing.
I've since given up on the teeth brushing. Instead, I make sure to give the cats a healthy diet that includes some dry food to help remove tartar. As part of their regular vet visit, their teeth are examined too. Funny how the vet gets to touch their teeth while I don't. Maybe I need to improve my bedside manner!