Like humans, cats can have problems with dental health, often related to poor diet and lack of care. When we keep cats as pets, it's our responsibility to provide the proper foods and veterinary attention. Cats in the wild usually don't have these problems if their habitats remain natural. But even that may not be the case and wildlife experts sometimes have to intervene with remedial treatments.
To prevent problems with our pets, the best actions we can take include a diet of sufficient quality to prevent the buildup of tartar and the subsequent development of certain oral diseases or conditions, notably gingivitis, an inflammation of the gum tissue.
Gingivitis, and later actual tooth decay, account for tooth loss, pain, difficulty eating, and bad breath. This requires veterinary care before it affects the cat's immune system, as it can lead to more serious health problems, such as heart disease or other organ involvements, as well as premature aging.
Your cat should be seen for annual tooth cleaning and to check for other health issues. Keep in mind, a dental procedure, such as "scaling" (or scraping) to remove the tartar buildup, will require your cat to be anesthetized. You may wish to have your vet show you how to care for your cat's teeth at home, too, to prevent things from becoming advanced.
Most vets will recommend tooth care either daily, or at least twice a week. Use a soft toothbrush with a small head, or perhaps a bit of gauze wrapped around a finger to gently rub the teeth. It's important not to upset the cat if you want cooperation, so don't try to do too much when you first start. If you only brush a few teeth at a time, that's better than nothing.
Start slowly and let the cat sniff the brush. Be sure to use toothpaste made for pets. Never use human toothpaste, especially if it contains fluoride! It can kill your cat.
End each session with petting or cuddling to help your cat relax.