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 instructions:

  • Start with your dog in a sitting position in front of you near a sink with the water running.

  • Rinse the tooth brush in cold water then insert the toothbrush gently under the cheek and move it along the gum line to the back teeth. This is to ensure that you are reaching the dog’s teeth in the back that are not visible.

  • You’ll need to use one hand to keep the dog’s snout steady, place your hand on his snout, hold the cheeks up, but let the dog move its lower jaw freely.

  • Once the brush is positioned on the back teeth, begin to brush in circular motions from the back to the front of the upper jaw on one side, and then do the lower jaw on the same side.

  • Repeat the brushing on the other side of the snout.

  • Insert the toothbrush into the mouth directly behind the canines above the premolars in order to brush the backs of the teeth.
Oral Exam:

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.