What can I do at home to keep my pet's teeth clean?
The prevention of dental disease is quite simple.
- First, look at your pet’s teeth! If you see yellow or brown material adhered to the teeth or smell a foul odor, then a professional cleaning at the clinic is indicated.
- If the teeth are white, then home care should be started.
Removing plaque before it hardens to calculus is the most important step in preventing periodontal disease. Feeding a proper diet, including some dry or crunchy food, stimulates the gums and helps clean exposed tooth surfaces. Brushing your pet’s teeth regularly (at least twice a week, preferably daily) reduces plaque and calculus buildup at and beneath the gum line. A daily tooth brushing is the best way to prevent gingivitis and more serious periodontal disease. Our doctors and technicians can show you the best way to begin brushing at home so that it is an enjoyable experience for you and your pet.
- Start slowly by using only veterinary toothpaste, NEVER human toothpaste. Vet toothpaste does not have fluoride, because our pets don’t know they’re not supposed to swallow! It’s also flavored chicken or beef, or something else your dog or cat will enjoy. Simply place a small strip on your finger and allow your pet to lick it off. Do this once a day, everyday for a week. Make it like a treat.
- The next week, as your pet is licking your finger, just make a swipe to each side of their mouth. This gets them used to something going in their mouth, but is not too invasive and they still like the taste.
- If he/she does well with that, the following week, put the toothpaste on a toothbrush, (or finger brush or gauze) and brush daily.
- After your pet accepts the brushing, it’s time to refine your technique. Gently hold the mouth closed with one hand. Lift the lip on one side and brush surfaces of teeth and gum line. Don’t forget the back molars! This is where salivary glands are located and many of the problems occur. The entire process should take only a few minutes. Praise your pet often and give occasional rewards for cooperation.
We have several products designed to kill bacteria in the mouth and prevent the build-up of tartar. They are not as effective as daily brushing but can be used in addition to brushing or if brushing is not an option. These include oravet and maxiguard oral gel.
We also carry treats that contain ingredients to decrease the amount of bacteria in your pet’s mouth and are best used in combination with other preventive care measures.