My two cents about dental upkeep in cats... DO IT. ;} Even if you brush.
What food do you feed your little lady? The type of food a cat eats is incredibly pertinent to their dental health. In a "wild"/natural setting, a cat eats small critters, such as birds, mice, insects, etc. Their back teeth, the ones that look like mountain ridges, are shearing teeth. They do not grind or chew, they snip, like a pair of scissors. They are designed to literally "cut" their prey into small enough pieces to be swallowed - a cat does not chew/grind/masticate their food the way that a cow (or a human) does with their molars. They eat their prey as-is - fur, feathers, and all.
Let's say a cat is eating a mouse. While a cat is shearing the mouse into bite-sized morsels, the fur of the mouse is rubbing against those back teeth as the cat chomps. The bones, although small, also rub/scrape against the back teeth. This acts as a natural "toothbrush" for the cat - literally scrubbing and cleansing its teeth as it eats. A wild/feral/outdoors cat who subsists entirely on small prey will likely never have plaque buildup, as they are designed to "brush their teeth" at every meal.
However, this is not the case with kibble. Kibble is terrible for a cat's teeth. Remember that cats do not chew/grind. They either swallow the kibble pieces whole - doing absolutely nothing for those back teeth in terms of "brushing" - or those shearing teeth cut the kibble into smaller pieces, which are then swallowed whole. Kibble does not clean a cat's teeth - this is a myth. Plus, the shattered kibble bits can lodge in the gum line and in other places in the mouth, leading to dental issues when bacteria colonize.
Canned food won't clean a cat's teeth either, nor will a ground raw diet (my own cat is on ground raw). However, these diets are less problematic than kibble, since they don't break into tiny bits/pieces/crumbs that can lead to bacterial buildup.
So - tl;dr you're doing great by brushing! In my opinion, three times a day is excessive - you should only need to brush once a day or every other day, unless she free-feeds on kibble or something similar. However, even a cat whose teeth get brushed need dental cleanings. It's just like with us humans - even if we're really, really good and we brush twice a day and floss after every meal, things are still going to build up on our teeth, and we need professional help. However, if you keep up with your cat's dental health by brushing as you are doing, she should only need a dental cleaning once a year.
As for your worries - I totally understand, but standard dental cleanings are usually very safe. I had an old girl who had kidney failure, was hyperthyroid, had a slight heart murmur, and had irritable bowel syndrome. She was also pretty darn old - in her late teens. However, I still had her teeth cleaned at least once a year, and she was just fine. She was 19 years old when she had her last dental cleaning (she died later that year just short of her 20th birthday; her kidney failure was just too advanced to fight any more) and the vet wasn't concerned about anesthetizing her for the dental. A good vet will monitor your kitty and ensure that she is fine during the dental.
And as another example - my young lady, who is 2, has been on a ground raw diet since I found her (aged ~7 months). I brush her teeth once a day. I still get her teeth cleaned once a year. The last time she had a cleaning, the vet called me and said that it literally took only 10 minutes to clean her teeth and they were done - he had never had such a quick, easy cleaning!
So, I think that your girl will have a nice, quick cleaning with no complications, since you take such good care of her teeth already :} But definitely have it done at least once a year - it's just good prevention.
Last edited by LakotaWolf; 04-25-2019 at 03:45 AM.