The most common disease in pets is dental disease, especially periodontal disease. The good thing is that it is one of the most preventable and treatable as well. Aside from brushing your pet’s teeth, we can reduce and even prevent dental disease by giving the appropriate chew treats and toys, and feeding a crunchy diet. Use these steps as a guide to assist you in brushing your pet’s teeth:
- In order to keep your pet’s mouth free of disease, the first step is to start with a clean, healthy mouth. Begin with either a young pet with healthy new teeth and gums, or once your pet has had a dental cleaning done professionally by your veterinarian.
- To begin your regimen, you will need a soft-bristled tooth brush and pet toothpaste. Human toothpastes and baking soda may cause problems and can be very toxic. Also, pet toothpastes come in flavors that will appeal to your pet. Below the gum line is a very important place to brush, so you must use a bristled tooth brush to reach that area.
- There are numerous vital facts about your pet’s mouths that tell us how, when, and where to brush. The upper and back teeth are usually affected first and mostly by periodontal disease. Like our mouths, plaque builds up on your pet’s teeth daily, particularly just under the gum line. This plaque can harden into tartar, or calculus, in less than 36 hours! After it hardens it can’t be removed with a brush, only a professional cleaning. This is why brushing should be done daily to remove the plaque from under the gum line.
- It’s best to pick a time of day that is convenient for you and your pet and easily fits into both your routines. Be patient and stick to it. It may take a few days in order for you and your pet to get used to the habit. If you always follow the brushing with a walk or an enjoyable dental treat, your pet may actually start looking forward to getting their teeth brushed.
- If you feel your pet may not adjust to teeth brushing, start slow. Offer them a taste of the paste, then next time use the paste and run your finger along their gums. Repeat the process with the tooth brush. If you can, make sure to angle the brush slightly up to get under the gum line, work from back to front, and make small circles. Brush their teeth for, at the most, 30 seconds. It’s all right if you can’t brush the entire mouth at first, but the outside of the upper teeth are the most important to clean to prevent periodontal disease. Eventually, if you’re patient and persistent, your pet may allow you to brush their entire mouth.
- If your pet is cooperative and you stick to the routine, it’s still possible they would need a professional cleaning eventually, just like us. But as long as you reduce the regularity and complexity of their dental cleanings, your goal of giving your pet a healthier grin, and a healthier life, is met.