Home Dental Care for your pet
Home Dental Care
After people brush their teeth, plaque begins to accumulate again after 12 to 24 hours, which is why we brush our teeth twice a day. Dogs’ teeth have the same basic makeup. The same bacterial plaque that causes periodontal disease and other dental problems builds up quickly even with brushing, which is why a dog’s teeth must be brushed on a daily basis.
Before beginning a dental home care program, you should see your veterinarian for a professional oral exam. Daily brushing will help prevent the accumulation of tartar, but must be coupled with cleanings and visits to your veterinarian. This is the best way to keep your pet’s mouth healthy.
The first step to proper home care is making it part of a routine. Be aware that trying once or twice a week is just not enough to make it routine. Trying to brush every once in a while will be difficult every time you try, until you make it a consistent habit. Instead, try brushing your pet’s teeth every day before a walk or before a feeding. That way the pet starts to associate getting its teeth brushed with something positive. After about a month, even the most uncooperative dog will look forward to its brushing and slowly become more cooperative.
Brushing at home is another important step to keeping your pet’s mouth healthy. Some easy steps to accomplish that are:
- Have your pet in front of you near a sink with the water running.
- Rinse the tooth brush with cold water, insert it under the cheek and move it along the gum line.
- Using one hand to keep the snout steady, hold the cheeks up but allow the lower jaw to move freely while brushing.
- Once the brush is on the lower teeth, begin to brush in a circular motion from back to front, upper to lower on one side.
- Repeat on the other side.
While you are brushing, there are things you should watch out for that will determine if it is time to see your veterinarian. These things include bad breath, loose teeth and sensitivity. Bad breath means it is time for a professional cleaning, remember that your dog is not supposed to have bad breath. Loose teeth need to be checked to determine whether or not they need to be extracted. Areas of sensitivity are possible areas of dental complications. Even if these signs are not present, you still need to take your dog to the veterinarian for routine cleanings and checkups.
Bleeding is quite normal when you first start brushing, but after the first week there should be very little if any. After a brushing program has been established for some time, bleeding can be a sign that the teeth need to be brushed more often to prevent bacterial plaque buildup.