A pet’s mouth is the portal to their body and good dental hygiene is key to their physical wellbeing. There is a direct relationship between a healthy mouth and the health of critical internal organs such as the heart and kidneys. Having healthy teeth and gums is one of the most important ways to help your pet avoid hidden infections and pain. Pets are masters of disguising these symptoms and taking a proactive approach to oral health care for your pet ensures they don’t suffer in silence from these concerns.
One of the keys to brushing your pet’s teeth is to start early when they are young by establishing a daily routine, ensuring positive rewards during the process, and building on these good habits right from the start! Brushing should start at the gum line working gently towards the tip of the tooth. The most significant amount of dental plaque and tartar develops on the surface of the tooth that rests against the inside of the cheek. Concentrating your efforts in this area of the mouth and leaving the more challenging locations until you are more advanced in your technique is a reasonable plan.
One big hurdle many pet owners struggle with is the idea that the pet’s mouth must be held open during brushing. Thankfully, when the focus is on the outside surface of the tooth, that is really not necessary. Inserting a toothbrush between the lip and the tooth with a gentle brushing action along the gumline is quite straightforward, lifting the lip edge can help to provide visibility and most certainly is more well-tolerated than opening the mouth.
Toothpaste is important, but it is noteworthy to mention that brushing without it has value as well. Fundamentally, toothpaste provides added friction when brushing, improving the ability of your brushing action to grab smaller, deeper plaque particles. Additionally, several types of pet toothpaste contain added ingredients that add lasting benefits to the oral health environment to reduce plaque formation between brushings.
It is important to avoid using human toothpaste when brushing your pet’s teeth. There are many components of human toothpaste that can be irritating and cause an upset stomach if consumed. Additionally, human toothpaste can contain ingredients that are best avoided in our pets, particularly because our pets tend not to follow the directions: “rinse and spit”!
“I don’t think flavor impacts functionality, but it certainly influences a pet’s willingness to participate!”, says Vetster’s Medical Director, Dr. Sarah Machell. So many pets are motivated by food - choose a flavor that your pet loves, and it only works to enhance the positive reward in the process!
More questions about caring for your pet’s dental hygiene? Book an appointment with one of our licensed veterinary professionals today!
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