Brushing your Pet's Teeth
If you never brushed your teeth, would your breath smell bad? How would this make you feel? Recent research in human medicine has shown that poor dental hygiene is a risk factor for a heart attack.
Teeth Brushing for pets can help avoid periodontal disease and other health problems!
Research in veterinary medicine has shown that periodontal disease can spread to the heart, kidney and liver and create significant problems. You can play an active role in disease prevention by brushing your pets' teeth.
Teeth brushing for pets can be fun, it can help prevent and control painful periodontal disease, it reduces bad breath problems and helps avoid other health risks.
Teeth brushing for pets can save owner's money!
By brushing your pets' teeth daily, you can also save money. Teeth brushing reduces the frequency required for professional teeth cleaning and related services. Read more about COHAT or comprehensive oral health assessment and treatment.
How frequently do you brush your pets' teeth?
Teeth brushing for pets, like many other important activities, must be performed routinely. This repetition creates a very beneficial habit. Daily teeth brushing is best because it physically removes plaque bacteria that causes periodontal disease. After three days, dental plaque hardens to form calculus or tartar. You cannot brush calculus away and plaque bacteria hide under the calculus resulting in periodontal disease.
Cats have some unique syndromes in addition to the same dental concerns we have for dogs.
More than half of cats over 3 years will have some degree of actual tooth resorption. Many cats are also afflicted with inflammation which can interfere with both eating and swallowing. Oral exams become especially important for our feline patients.
Teeth brushing technique for cats and dogs!
Teeth brushing is worth the effort!
This incisor area is gently brushed
using up and down as well as
elliptical stroke motion.
For the canine and premolar teeth the
brush is angled at a 45 degree angle
to the gumline. This gets bristles into
the gingival sulcus where the disease
causing plaque bacteria thrive.
Demonstration of a "finger brush"
being used for the upper molar and
The finger brush is being used for the
upper canine tooth. Notice the brush
is mounted on the finger.
A close up view of a finger brush for teeth brushing. A circular or elliptical
brush stroke pattern is used. Remember to be very gentle in brushing
the periodontal tissues.
A similar brushing technique can be used with a child's soft bristle tooth brush.
Elliptical or small circular brushing
strokes in the canine and premolar
Gently work the bristles under the
Same elliptical-circular strokes on
Remember 45 degree angle to the gumline.
Why don't we brush the inside (tongue side) of the teeth?
Teeth brushing can be challenging or fun for both pets and their owners. Efforts to brush the inside of the teeth increases the challenge significantly. These efforts may lead to frustration and rejection of teeth brushing all together. Tongue motions seem to be effective at reducing the plaque accumulations on the insides of the teeth.
The major salivary ducts secrete saliva primarily on the outside areas of the teeth. Saliva adds chemicals that contribute to the formation of calculus (tartar). Calculus cannot be brushed away and a professional cleaning is then necessary. Brushing only the outsides of the teeth may not seem to be ideal however it has been very beneficial for pets and their owners. Brushing the outside of the teeth is far superior to no teeth brushing at all.
What tooth brush is best to use for your pet?
The best tooth brush is the one you will use every day. The brush must be appropriately sized for the pet and the owner. A wide selection of brushes are available.
For people with arthritis or limited hand mobility, it can be very effective to use a battery operated rotary tooth brush. Many pets accept this form of brushing. It takes time and patience.
Final advice for teeth brushing of your pets.
1. Think about the reason you are brushing your pet's teeth.
To remove plaque bacteria that causes periodontal disease, a health threat.
2. Have a positive attitude. If you think you can do it you indeed can.
3. Keep reasonable expectations.
Enjoy your pet and brush their teeth to interact with them. Treats can be rewards. It takes time and patience to create a habit. Enjoy the time with your pet.
Be persistent, always gentle, kind and loving.
4. Start slow, be gentle, play a lot.
Brush for 5-10 seconds in the 4 dental arches upper and lower left, then right side.
5. Expand the brushing to 30 seconds in each of the 4 dental arcades.
6. Don't miss a day for six weeks and a habit is formed.