For instructional videos for brushing your dog or cat’s teeth, watch the videos linked below.
Home dental care is the key
To maintaining a healthy mouth between professional cleanings. Just like in human dentistry, the American Veterinary Dental Society advocates daily brushing of your pet’s teeth. In fact, they state that if you’re not brushing at least 3 times a week, soft plaque is already solidifying into tartar that you won’t be able to remove with a brush. Regular oral hygiene can help your pet avoid dental issues like painful periodontal disease and abscesses down the road.
How do I care for my pet’s teeth at home?
Some dogs (and even some cats) will allow their owners to brush their teeth at home. Frequent brushing can slow the build up of tartar, because it gently scrapes away plaque before it has the chance to become calcified tartar. Brushing should be done every day to ward off dental disease.
Toothbrushes come in several different sizes and shapes. Some brushes resemble our own human toothbrushes with long handles, and others are bristled covers that go over your fingertip (which work well for cats and are great for starting out with dogs).
Toothpaste should be specially formulated enzymatic paste for dogs and cats, and not human toothpaste, which contains fluoride, baking soda, detergents and salt. Pet toothpaste is designed to be safe if swallowed, and is often flavored to make brushing more palatable to pets.
After brushing, the same OraVet gel that we use during a professional cleaning can be used at home. For some people, brushing is not an option due to time constraints or unwilling pet participants. For these pets, alternative (but not as effective) options include:
Committing to brushing and applying OraVet gel once a week — as the use of OraVet will inhibit the deposition of plaque and tartar
Using oral rinses such as Nolvadent or Maxiguard
Using commercial dental chews
Feeding a few kibbles of Hill’s T/D diet after meals to clean tooth surfaces of plaque
When brushing isn’t enough
As soft plaque and food residue calcify into thick tartar, it becomes impossible for teeth to be cleaned with brushing alone. At this point, we will need to perform a dental cleaning procedure to safely remove the tartar build-up.