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All about brushing my pet’s teeth

In dogs and cats, poor dental hygiene can lead to the development of periodontal disease, which is not only bad breath, but can cause several risks to the general health of the animal. Fortunately, there are several methods to help maintain a good dental health for your pets. One of these is brushing, which is the most effective way to prevent these problems. With this article, we want to help you understand the importance and the best technics to achieve it.

Why should I brush my dog or cat’s teeth?

Many factors can influence the development of plaque and tartar, such as genetics, breeds, diet, chewing habits, dental malocclusions and bacterial flora. To maintain good oral health in your pet, brushing is by far the best method. Its main advantage is the mechanical effect. This brushing effect helps to dislodge plaque and prevent tartar. Although it is the most effective, it can also be the most difficult to perform for some, but rest assured, this article is here to give you tools towards success.

As for other methods, the important thing is to choose a product that has sufficient contact time with the animal’s teeth and gums. Furthermore, if you choose products that act on bad breath, the important thing is to make sure that it is not only an odor neutralizer, but that it has an effect on the bacteria that produce these bad odors. As for dental toys, they are recommended not only for the oral health benefits, but also for the chewing activity. However, they are seen more as complementary objects to tooth brushing. They cannot replace the mechanical action performed with the brush, the latter reaching places that the dental toy cannot.

How should I brush my pet’s teeth?

It is easier to start when they are young, since habits are formed more quickly. You can start very quietly and gently manipulating the mouth and gradually add the finger. Next, it’s important to introduce the toothbrush to your dog before inserting it into his mouth. You can start by make your pets lick the product off the brush so that the animal gets used to the texture of the bristles. The last step in the process is to introduce the brush calmly and without straining. Consistency is the key to good results.

Now let’s deal with the more technical aspect of brushing your pets teeth. You can brush only the outer side of the teeth, because with all the tongue movement, it is rare to see plaque build-up on the inner side of the teeth. The brush should be at a 45-degree angle to the gum line, as shown in the figure below. Then, using a back-and-forth motion, you can gently brush your pet’s teeth. The idea is to brush all the teeth thoroughly, starting with the canines, then the premolars and molars, and ending with the incisors. No need to press hard on the brush.

To make the experience positive for the animal, you can add rewards throughout the process.

The adaptation period will depend on each animal, some will take more time than others. The important thing is that the experience remains pleasant for the animal and that it is not traumatic. You must not force the animal since this conditions it negatively. Instead of wanting to have his teeth brushed, he will want to run away. It’s important to go at your pet’s pace and start with shorter sessions. The best brushing experience is with a cooperative pet. The ultimate goal is to brush every day, but it’s a process that doesn’t happen overnight.

What to use for your dental hygiene routine?

When it comes to choosing a toothbrush, the ideal is one with soft bristles. Those with hard bristles can irritate your pet’s gums. Therefore, a soft-bristled children’s toothbrush can do the job very well for a small to medium-sized mouth. Also, the size of the brush should be adapted to the size of the animal’s mouth.

It is recommended to change toothbrushes regularly and not to share them with other family members to avoid transmitting bad bacteria. In addition, after a while, toothbrush bristles become deformed and lose their effectiveness against plaque.

When it comes to toothpaste, it is important not to use human toothpaste because it contains ingredients that can be harmful to animals. This is why it is preferable to buy a toothpaste specifically designed for them. Also, choosing a product that your pet likes will help make the experience more pleasant.

How often should I brush my pet’s teeth?

The key is consistency. You need to brush regularly to get the best results. Ideally, you should brush every day with a product that is effective against plaque build-up.

When is the best time to start these good habits?

In the best of all possible worlds, tooth brushing should start at a very young age. When the pet is still a baby, it’s easier to establish new habits. Plus, it goes a long way toward getting the pet to handle the mouth, and makes the action easier as they get older. This sets a good foundation for their dental hygiene habits that continue throughout their lives. However, it’s never too late to start good dental hygiene habits! It may take longer to establish, but it is still achievable at any age.

That concludes our article on tooth brushing. We hope you feel more equipped and confident to perform it. We also hope you have a better understanding of the importance of this action in the lives of your lovely pets. We invite you to read our other blog posts that may provide you with more knowledge about your pets’ oral health. You can write to us if you have any questions or comments, we are here to help you and walk you through the process.

References

Niemiec, Brook A. (2013) Veterinary Periodontology. John Wiley & Sons, 372p. Harvey C, Serfilippi L, Barnvos D. Effect of Frequency of Brushing Teeth on Plaque and Calculus Accumulation, and Gingivitis in Dogs. J Vet Dent. 2015 Spring;32(1):16-21.

Photographie par @the_little_dog_crew

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