How do I keep my Pet's Teeth Clean?
Keeping your pet's mouth healthy is important. Your pet will be healthier and not have "doggy" or "kitty" breath.
Brushing your pet's teeth, giving your pet toys and rawhides and using rinses and water additives can help you keep your pet's mouth healthy at home. If your pet has lots of tartar on his or her teeth, call us to set up a dental cleaning appointment. We will need to clean your pet's teeth. Read more about that below.
Brush your pet's teeth daily. Use a pet tooth brush and tooth paste. We sell a tooth brush that has a three sided head so it brushes each side of the tooth in one swipe. Pet tooth pastes come in chicken, liver, beef and other flavors. Do NOT use people tooth paste. It is poisonous to your pet. Read the next topic below to learn how to teach your pet to accept their teeth being brushed.
You can teach your pet to accept having his or her teeth brushed. The best time to start brushing your pet's teeth is when they are a puppy or kitten. But you can teach your adult pet too. It just may take a little bit longer. Purchase a pet tooth brush and paste. Pet tooth pastes come in various flavors. Try a flavor you think your pet will like.
When you start, don't just shove the tooth brush into your pet's mouth. They can get scared. You need to slowly work your way up to brushing your pet's teeth over several days. Start by putting some of the tooth paste on your finger and let your pet lick it off. When your pet looks forward to getting the tooth paste, start sticking your finger in your pet's mouth and move in like a tooth brush a few times. Do this until your pet is comfortable. Then start putting it on the brush and let him or her lick it off. When your pet is comfortable with this, move the brush in and out of the mouth one time. Do this until your pet is comfortable. Then slowly add more swipes until you can brush your pet's mouth.
This "how to" on brushing your pet's teeth is very informative. We found it in Veterinary Technician magazine. We have printed versions in our office. Stop in and pick one up if you like.
You can give your pet treats after you brush his or her teeth. This may seem strange. After all, you just cleaned their teeth. But giving your pet a treat lets them know, if they let you brush their teeth, then they get a treat.
Encourage your pet to chew on rawhides, nylabones and other toys to help clean your pet's teeth. The chewing motion helps to clean teeth. Some nylabones and toys are designed to help clean teeth.
Use a water additive to help keep your pet's teeth clean. We sell an additive called Clenz-a-dent. We also have a cleaning rinse that can be squirted into your pet's mouth. If your pet doesn't like the rinse squirted into his or her mouth, you can squirt it onto a toy or rawhide and let your pet chew on that.
If none of these are helping with your dog or cat's bad breath, call us to set up an appointment. We will look at your pet's teeth and mouth. We can also set up appointment to clean your pet's teeth. We place your pet under anesthesia while we perform the dental. Dr. Foote cleans the teeth while one of the veterinary technicians or assistants monitor your pet. We look at your pet's gums for any abnormalities. We remove plaque and tartar from your pet's teeth and look for loose teeth. We will remove loose teeth. We will also remove teeth if they are damaged. We then polish your pet's teeth and apply a sealant to help prevent tartar build up. Here are a before and after picture of a dog we performed a dental cleaning on.
Before - teeth are cover in plaque and tartar
After - teeth are clean
Most adult dogs and cats have some form of periodontal disease. Tartar and plaque build up on your pet's teeth. Bacteria starts to live and reproduce around the plaque. Hair and pieces of food also can get stuck between your pet's teeth, allowing more bacteria to grow. The bacteria releases toxins that irritate the gum tissue. This causes inflammation, redness and pain. The toxins also attack the supporting structures, including the periodontal ligaments and bone, around the tooth. The loss of supporting structures makes the tooth loose. The bacteria can enter your pet's blood stream and travel to other organs, including the heart, kidney and liver. The bacteria can inflame these organs and cause health problems. The bacteria living in your pet's mouth also causes bad breath.
The progression of dental disease has four stages. During the first stage, the gums will be slightly red and swollen and teeth will have plaque on them. The first stage is reversible with a dental cleaning. During the second stage, the gums are red and swollen, the teeth have chunks of plaque on them and the breath will smell. This stage is also reversible with a dental cleaning. During the third stage, the gums will also bleed and some teeth may be completely covered by tartar. The mouth is also very sore during this stage. This stage may be reversible with a dental cleaning. During the fourth stage, the gums may contain pus pockets and tooth roots may be visible. This stage is not reversible. We perform a dental cleaning to remove the tartar, loose teeth and any infected tissues.
For more information about pet dental health visit the American Veterinary Dental College's website.