There are a variety of toothbrushes on the market, but how do you choose the best one for your pet? We answer that in this article!
What type of bristles to choose for a toothbrush?
One of the most important aspects of choosing a toothbrush for your pet is that it must have soft bristles. Indeed, bristles that are too hard can irritate and hurt your pet’s gums. With humans, it is possible to observe that the prolonged use of bristles that are too hard can have consequences on oral health, such as gum recession and sensitivity in the dentin, among others. Gingival recession is the loss of tissue at the gum line with exposure of the roots of the teeth. According to a study published in the Journal of Dentistry of the University of Shiraz, the use of harder bristles does not result in any additional benefit to gum health. In fact, it turns out that using hard bristles doubled the risk of gum recession.
What toothbrush head size should I choose for my pet?
The toothbrush head size should be as close as possible to the size of your pet’s mouth. A double-headed toothbrush offers two different head sizes. The smaller end can reach the further teeth, while the larger head can be used for teeth that are more easily accessible. On the other hand, to avoid having your hand too close to your pet’s mouth, you can opt for a toothbrush with a longer handle. You can also use toothbrushes that have an angle towards the outside in order to have more freedom of movement while being less close to the mouth.
Can I use the same toothbrush for my pets?
Did you know that bacteria can adhere to and even survive on toothbrush bristles? That’s why it’s best to avoid sharing toothbrushes with your pets, if you have more than one. Sharing toothbrushes could contribute to the spread of microorganisms in the oral cavity and could lead to infection. It is therefore recommended to have a unique toothbrush for each pet.
When should I replace my pet’s toothbrush?
With humans, toothbrushes should ideally be changed every three months as the bristles become damaged. However, for pets who don’t use it as often as we do, it may need to be changed less frequently. Changing your pet’s toothbrush regularly will ensure that it is as effective as possible. Changing it too late can cause plaque to build up near the gums, as the quality of the bristles diminishes over time.
What about fingerbrushes for dogs and cats?
In addition to toothbrushes, there are fingerbrushes to take care of your pet’s dental hygiene. The fingerbrushes found on the market are made of several materials such as microfiber cloth, silicone, cotton or plastic. They have the same purpose as a toothbrush: to mechanically remove plaque. You can put it on your index finger and rub it against your pet’s teeth and gums, if it is already used to being handled in the mouth. Some owners prefer this accessory to a toothbrush, since it allows them to have more control over their movements. Even if they don’t reach the plaque under the gum, unlike the bristles of a toothbrush, they allow to improve the action of the finger on the teeth thanks to their texture. On the other hand, it is important to clean the fingerbrush well after each use.
An electric toothbrush for my dog?
For some pets, the vibrations from the electric toothbrush can be stressful. That’s why it’s important to desensitize your pet to the vibrations before inserting the electric toothbrush into its mouth. This accessory should be used with an animal that is very comfortable with tooth brushing. It is therefore an alternative for the more experienced! On the other hand, for long-haired dogs, you must be careful that the fur does not get trapped in the brush mechanism. This would unfortunately cause a bad experience for the animal. Dental care is already, for many dogs and cats, a stress in itself. Before adding an electric toothbrush to your dental routine, make sure your pet is ready for the change!
Finally, the most important thing to remember when choosing a toothbrush is to choose one with soft bristles and a size adapted to your pet’s mouth. Also, it is important not to share toothbrushes between your pets!
For more tips on brushing your pet’s teeth, check out our blog post on the subject! We are also available to answer any questions you may have about your four-legged friends’ dental health.
Veterinary Periodontology, First Edition. Brook A. Niemiec. Saffarzadeh A, Khodarahmi N, Mohammadi M. Evaluation of the Effect of Ultra-Soft Toothbrushes with Different Commercial Brands on Plaque and Bleeding Indices. J Dent (Shiraz). 2021;22(1):53-59. doi:10.30476/DENTJODS.2020.83259.1044 Zinn MK, Schages L, Bockmühl D. The Toothbrush Microbiome: Impact of User Age, Period of Use and Bristle Material on the Microbial Communities of Toothbrushes. Microorganisms. 2020;8(9):1379. Published 2020 Sep 9. doi:10.3390/microorganisms8091379 Kreifeldt JG, Hill PH, Calisti LJ. A systematic study of the plaque removal efficiency of worn toothbrushes. J Dent Res. 1980 Dec;59(12):2047-55. doi: 10.1177/00220345800590120401. PMID: 6941992.