Last week, we talked about why dental health is important and the overall effects that can result if care is not taken. This week, I want to talk about what a good preventive care program looks like.
Create a Routine
The plan is simple on paper, but I know from personal experience that keeping your pet’s teeth and mouth in good shape takes dedication and consistency. Usually, the more you practice the following steps, the easier the routine will get for you and your dog.
1. Buy a toothbrush for pets or wrap a clean piece of gauze around your finger.
2. Buy a paste specifically for pets; sometimes they are flavored, which makes brushing easier. You can also use baking soda and water. Do not use fluoride on pets less than six months old as doing so can interfere with enamel formation. Do not use human toothpaste, because it can be hard on an animal’s stomach.
3. Get your pet used to the idea of teeth brushing by rubbing your finger first around his/her lips for 30 to 60 seconds once or twice a day for a few weeks, then take the next step to rubbing around their teeth and gums.
4. Once your pet is used to the sensation of having their teeth brushed, put toothpaste on your finger and repeat the process as outlined above.
5. Finally, graduate to the special toothbrush for dogs or cats with the paste on it. Use the following techniques for the best results: Lift pet's lips as necessary.Angle the brush or your finger at a 45-degree angle and move in small circular motions.Focus on the side of the teeth that are against the cheek as most of the tartar build up is located there.After brushing in a circle motion, you can brush downward to flush out tartar. Brush two or three times a week.
During your pet's annual visit, make sure that your vet checks your pet's teeth and gums. If a dental cleaning is necessary, then do not delay. Poor oral hygiene can lead to other health issues. For more information, see last week's blog post on the importance of dental care.
The professional dental cleaning itself is like that of a human dental cleaning—tartar removal; checking for cavities, gum pockets, loose teeth, and any growths on the gums or palate; removal of diseased teeth; and, finally, polishing. The polishing smooths the tooth after tartar removal, because the tartar pits the tooth. A smooth tooth will not encourage tartar formation as easily as a rough tooth.
I realize that many people are concerned about any process that involves anesthesia, but rest assured, modern techniques make both cleaning and anesthesia safer than ever. If you have any questions, please make an appointment to see me. I am here to help.