Veterinary Dental Center

Home Care

Brush my dogs and cat's what? - Home Care 101

Pet Tooth BrushingWhat would happen if you stopped brushing your own teeth? Even if you only ate hard food as some dogs and cats do, there still would be problems. Your pet's teeth must be brushed daily if you can manage it. It is not as difficult as you might imagine.

What are the benefits? Brushing removes the daily accumulation of plaque from the teeth. Undisturbed plaque will result in calculus, which is a hard mineral substance that appears yellow or brown on the tooth surface. If untreated this will lead to gingivitis, pain, infection and loss of teeth.

Mechanical plaque control

Animal Tooth BrushingTooth brushing is the single most effective means of removing plaque from the visible surface of the tooth. First select a pet toothbrush. A long handled, soft bristled brush works well for dogs, while a small specially designed brush works better in our cat patients mouth.

Secondly, select pet toothpaste. These toothpastes are designed to be swallowed, taste good to our pets and contain enzymes or antiseptics that help control plaque.

Next we want to introduce the idea of brushing in a gentle manner. Start slowly, using a washcloth to wipe the teeth. Then move to the flavored toothpaste on the washcloth. Over time you may introduce the toothbrush and soon it will become a routine.

The proper technique for brushing teeth is applying the bristles at a 45-degree angle to the gums. We recommend brushing the outside of the teeth (nearest to the lips) only. If possible circular motions are superior, however, the key is the abrasive action of the toothbrush.

Dietary texture also serves to reduce plaque. The oversized, highly abrasive kibble of Hills T/D diet will reduce the accumulation of plaque and calculus. Although not as effective as brushing, T/D does offer those unwilling patients the option of prevention.

Dietary Texture

Chemical control of plaque

Chlorhexidine is the most effective product we have for inhibiting plaque formation. We offer this product in a gel and oral rinse. Alone it is rarely effective but when combined with mechanical plaque control improved results occur.

Exercise toys, rawhides, and other dental treats help reduce plaque to some degree. These items massage the gum tissue and should be used only as a supplement to tooth brushing. Cow hooves, bones, and hard plastic toys should be avoided.

The role of professional therapy

Even with good home care, most pets will require professional teeth cleanings at regular intervals. Our teeth cleaning and polishing provides an environment in which you can keep clean "The more you do at home the less we will have to do in our dental suite."