What You Need To Know About Brushing Teeth

Pets need help with their teeth, too! Brushing your pet’s teeth can prevent gingivitis, tooth damage and infection. It also makes those surprise puppy kisses way less smelly and makes your cat’s coat healthier.

 How often should I brush my pet’s teeth?

Daily is best, but as frequently as possible.

How do I brush their teeth?

Here are some important tips:

  • Use pet toothpaste. It is tasty (the Virbac CET poultry seems to be the most popular around our hospital), has enzymatic assistance, and has NO fluoride or Xylitol which can be toxic to pets if ingested.
  • Start with having them lick the toothpaste off your finger for the first 1-3 days.
  • Next, have them lick the toothpaste off the toothbrush for the next 1-3 days.
  • Then encouraging them to chew on the toothbrush – in particular the back molars on both sides, for the next 1-3 days.
  • Finally begin moving the toothbrush in an up-and-down brushing fashion on the back molars, moving towards the front and including the front teeth (incisors).

What happens if there is blood?

Sometimes, just like with people, gingivitis can cause redness along the gum line. When brushed, these gums will bleed. This will stop with regular brushings, as you will be able to reverse the gingivitis with proper dental care. If bleeding continues for longer than 7 days, the gingivitis is too severe and you should bring your pet to your veterinarian for a more intense dental cleaning.

Any Other Tips and Treats?

  • Toothbrushes: Extra soft (children’s) toothbrushes, dog and cat specific toothbrushes and finger brushes are available at most pet stores, Wal-Mart and most veterinary hospitals.
  • Toothpaste: Be very careful with the brand of toothpaste you purchase. Virbac’s CET and Vetoquinol’s Enzadent are the best for quality, flavour, enzymatic effectiveness and safety. Remember – No Fluoride, no Xylitol!
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  • Food: Royal Canin’s Dental, Hill’s t/d, and PVD’s DH diets are by far the best healthy, complete, and balanced diets on the market for preventing and reversing tartar and gingivitis. Other diets with “dental health” claims can be found here: http://www.vohc.org/accepted_products.htm
  • Treats: Most dental treats are very high in calories, and they only have a limited amount of effectiveness. When given daily, they can quickly add on the pounds and may only help one small part of your pet’s mouth. Keep in mind that dogs and cats do not chew with their incisors or big canine teeth, so these teeth will not be helped by treats, rawhides, or chews.
  • Sprays and Water Additives: there are a very limited number of dental treatments that help prevent tartar, gingivitis and plaque. Leba III is one of the few, and it does not remove tartar that is already present and needs a daily administration to prevent tartar accumulation.
  • Nothing beats a dental cleaning: Just like with us, routine cleaning of the subgingival (below the gumline) plaque and tartar, as well as the stuff you can see, is best solved by having a proper cleaning. This involves sedating your pet for their safety so that a full ultrasonic and hand scaling, polishing, fluoride treatment (which is flushed off: as long as it is not swallowed, fluoride is safe and greatly helps teeth health), and a full oral exam for tooth decay can be done.
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Written by Moncton Animal Hospital