A dog having its teeth brushed in the bathMost of us brush our teeth twice a day and see the dentist at least annually, but many of our pets don’t have the benefit of regular pet dental care. It’s true, we love their smiles no matter what they look like. But did you know that it’s not only a great smile and fresh breath that counts?

It is estimated that over 85% of pets over the age of 3 have some form of dental disease. Dental disease can be present without you even knowing it and can cause bad breath, bleeding gums, infection under the gumline, tooth loss, and even compromise your pet’s internal organs.

If you already have an at-home pet dental care program, congratulations! If not, let Androscoggin Animal Hospital help you prevent dental disease with a team approach.

It Starts at Home

Regular inspection of your pet’s teeth is important in preventing dental disease. For great oral health in your pet, start early! Your kitten or puppy can learn to accept at-home pet dental care more easily that an older pet, but even adult pets can learn how to have their teeth brushed with enough patience and positivity.

Tartar may appear as goldish-brown buildup near the gumline. Gingivitis can be recognized by red, swollen, and/or bleeding gums. If you see these, contact us right away.

Brushing Your Pet’s Teeth

  • Get the right tools. A canine toothbrush is curved to reach back teeth. For kitties, use a fingerbrush. Use only pet toothpaste as human toothpaste can cause an upset stomach in pets.
  • Find a calm time and make your pet comfortable.
  • Touch the teeth and gums without the toothbrush.
  • Introduce the toothpaste by letting your pet lick a tiny bit from your finger.
  • Add the toothpaste to the toothbrush.
  • Lift their lip to see their front teeth, and start with brushing the top front teeth.
  • Next, brush the top back teeth.
  • Brush the bottom front and then the bottom back teeth.
  • Reward your pet!

It may take days and even weeks to get the hang of this. Don’t give up! Give lots of praise at every step above. Keep sessions short, fun, and positive, and make it a part of their routine.

Dental Diets

Your veterinarian might recommend a dental diet for your pet. Diets that have irregular shaped kibble have been shown to be effective in preventing plaque and tartar. These diets, such as Hills Dental Diet T/D, work either by abrasive action or by preventing the mineralization of tartar. Check with us for a recommendation.

Chews and Treats

Be aware that some dental chews on the market can actually harm your pet’s teeth and gums if they are too hard. Make sure that you stick to a chew that has been approved by the Veterinary Oral Health Council. This organization makes sure that dental chews and treats are actually effective in preventing plaque and tartar buildup.

The VOHC, though a good place to start, does not test for safety. To prevent tooth fractures, please make sure that any chew or toy you give is soft and bendable. If you have questions, ask us.

Pet Dental Care Is a Team Effort

At-home dental care is an important component of overall dental health. The rest of the equation is a dental exam and cleaning in our office. A professional dental cleaning is the only way to clean plaque, tartar, and bacteria from under the gumline, and to assess any problem areas with a comprehensive examination.

Give us a call to schedule your a dental exam, or to answer any questions about pet dental care.