Equally important to our annual oral health assessment for your pet is home dental care, including brushing your pets teeth every day. Yes, every day! It’s never too late to introduce a dog to the idea of dental care, but it is easier to start when your pet is younger. No matter when you decide to start it is best to begin slowly and gradually. Try to use a finger to gently rub along your dog’s gums and teeth. The most important area to focus on is the gum line (the crevice where the gums meet the teeth), where bacteria and food mix to form plaque. Focus in on the gum line, start at the front to the mouth, then move to the back upper and lower teeth and gum areas. Once you dog is used to this, gradually introduce gauze over your finger and rub the teeth and gums in a circular fashion.
When your pet can handle the gauze, try brushing with a tooth brush that is soft bristled and specially designed for dogs or a soft, ultra-sensitive toothbrush designed for people (adult or children). A battery–powered toothbrush for dogs performs well and in most cases is well tolerated. The bristles should be held in a 45-degree angle to the tooth surface and be moved in an oval motion. Scrub along the gum line as this is where the odor and infection begin but be sure not brush too hard. You can add in a dog tooth paste if you like but remember to never use people toothpaste as it can upset your pet’s stomach. Toothpaste is a flavoring to enhance acceptance of the tooth brush but the most important aspect is the manual tooth brushing.
We have a video on our website that further demonstrates this technique. Go to springfieldvetcenter.com and select tooth brushing under videos.
In addition to at home brushing, there are tartar preventative diets, appropriate chew treats and oral rinses and gels that can further help to reduce dental disease in your pet’s mouth. We would be happy to give you some safe and proven effective options, just ask one of our staff members! We share a common goal in keeping your pet happy and healthy.