HOW DO I CARE FOR MY PET’S TEETH AT HOME?
The truth is this, the more you do at home (for your pet), the less we will have to perform specialized dentistry for them under anesthesia. Home oral care for your pet is as important as you caring for your own teeth to reduce the number of visits to the dentist.
- Dogs and cats develop plaque (white material on teeth) after every meal.
- This material mineralizes in 3-4 days and becomes brown staining/tartar in a few weeks to a month.
- Depending on the pet (breed/age/health status), this will plaque and tartar will progress to gingivitis and bone loss.
- We must actively prevent this process to prevent pain, infection and tooth loss
HOME CARE 101
Tooth brushing is the single most effective means of removing plaque from the visible surface of the tooth.
- Select a soft-bristled toothbrush for your pet or we recommend soft gauze that can be wrapped around your finger.
- Smaller brushes are available for cats.
- Toothpaste may be used but in many cases, the “flavored paste” can be counterproductive to organized brushing/gauze wiping of the teeth.
- The key is the abrasive action of a moist toothbrush or gauze.
Get your pet used to it
- Start off by gently lifting up the upper lips, calmly talking to him/her while touching their lips and teeth.
- Follow this action with a reward (a favorite treat or we use freeze-dried liver). This treat is our way of saying “thank you” for holding still.
- Our goal is to foster a cooperative spirit prior to moving on to actual brushing with a toothbrush or gauze.
- Repetition will lead to a routine.
Technique of brushing
- A wet toothbrush or gauze is used to wipe the outside of the teeth (nearest to the lips) focusing on cleaning the teeth to the gum lime.
- Use our pre-cleaning dental pictures to focus on those teeth that had the tartar accumulation.
- Perform this brushing once daily.
- A tartar preventative prescription (Hills T/D or Royal Canin Dental) diet. These oversized kibbles require the pet to bite/chew the kibble rather than swallowing them whole. These large kibbles provide a fibrous/abrasive cleansing action on the tooth surface.
- Remember this is a diet, not a treat. A meal of 10-14 kibbles (10# dog) has been shown to reduced plaque and tartar on 22 teeth.
- Other ways to reduce plaque (only as a supplement to toothbrushing or T/D diet).
- The Veterinary Oral Health Council has a list of products that have undergone testing to demonstrate some degree of effectiveness.
- DO NOT USE antlers, bones or nylon chewing objects as they may fracture teeth.
The role of professional therapy
Even with good home care, most pets will require professional teeth cleanings at regular intervals.