According to the VOHC (Veterinary Oral Health Council) all pets are at risk for developing dental problems. Prevention through professional care and daily dental home care is the best option for the health of your pet. Plaque should be removed from your pets’ teeth every day before it mineralizes into tartar. Brushing your pets’ teeth is the best tool to keep your pets’ teeth healthy. There are also a variety of chews, rinses and diets available to help you provide the best care for your pets’ teeth.
The gold standard of plaque control for canine and feline pets is twice daily tooth brushing. Devices such as gauze pads, sponge swabs or cotton swabs remove plaque above the gum line, but cannot adequately clean the space below the gum line where plaque and calculus (tartar) accumulate. Brushing your pets’ teeth regularly is not an easy task. Struggling, biting and/or scratching from an uncooperative pet can quickly cause owners to become reluctant.
To help improve at-home plaque-prevention habits:
• Start with a healthy, comfortable mouth — Untreated, painful oral disease will make tooth brushing painful for your pet and difficult for you. Dental disease must be cared for first.
• Choose a proper toothbrush and toothpaste — Toothbrushes have bristles that reach under the gum line to clean the space that surrounds each tooth. We have specially made brushes that have dual ends which fit the large mouths of long-muzzled dogs, as well as a smaller end for cats.
• Each dog or cat must have his or her own brush.
• Human toothpastes which contain detergents should not be used because dogs and cats will swallow the paste.
• We carry multiple flavors of toothpaste made special for pets. The flavors include Vanilla-Mint, Poultry, Malt, Beef & Seafood; pets seem to prefer poultry flavored pastes.
The toothbrush and toothpaste should be gently introduced under the lip. While brushing, you should concentrate on the outside surfaces of the upper teeth. A circular brush motion is the goal, but back and forth will also remove plaque. If you sense that a pet is anxious during the brushing procedure, you should reassure the pet by talking and try again. Reward your pet’s progress immediately with a treat or a play period after each cleaning session. Toothbrush bristles should be placed at a 45-degree angle at the gum margin where the teeth and gingiva meet. Pet owners should use a circular pattern, gently forcing the bristle ends into the area around the base of the tooth as well as into the space between the teeth. Ten short back-and-forth motions — covering three to four teeth at a time — should be completed before moving the brush to a new location. The area requiring the most attention is the outside of the upper teeth. Information adapted from www.oralatp.com