Pets who have never had their teeth cared for often suffer from plaque, tartar and gingivitis, a painful inflammation of the gums caused by excess plaque buildup and poor dental hygiene. Sometimes bacterial infections flare up in their mouths, causing infections that infiltrate their bloodstreams. When this happens bacteria can sometimes set up home in your pet’s vital organs such as her heart and kidneys, causing untold complications there.
Although dental scaling by your vet is probably something many of us are aware of, this procedure does require for your pet to be put under anesthesia, something we should keep to a minimum. Dental scaling also costs quite a bit.
So what can you do? Brush her teeth – daily is best but twice weekly is acceptable too if you’re really pressed for time. With consistent dental care, you will be able to remove soft plaque from her teeth before it has had a chance to form into tough tartar.
Now that you’ve decided to embark on this expedition, get yourself equipped. A long-handled pet toothbrush or a short brush with soft bristles that fits your forefinger will do the trick. Most pet stores carry these along with special dental-cleaning solutions for animals. Don’t use human toothpaste.
Now for the actual process of brushing. Lift your dog’s upper lips and brush in a straight line along the outside of her teeth. Be gentle, especially in the area where the teeth meet the gum line. When you’re done with the top teeth, move on to the bottom. Once you’ve mastered the art of brushing efficiently, it shouldn’t take more that two to three minutes.
One common worry most people have is that their cat or dog cannot sit still for more than five minutes, let alone have you poking and prodding in her mouth. Well, it takes patience – lots of it on your part. It will help to make the experience a happy one by giving her a treat every time you approach her with a toothbrush. Most dental-cleaning solutions for animals come flavoured with chicken or beef or tuna, for that precise reason.
To encourage her to allow you fiddling in her mouth, dip your fingers in some tuna water or chicken stock, then rub gently along her teeth and gums. Do this a few times for about a week or so. Once she’s comfortable with it, you can slowly introduce the toothbrush. Don’t give up too soon just because she dislikes it at first – just keep trying and you’ll see she eventually gives in.
One important thing to remember is that although you do care for her teeth on a regular basis, she will still need an occasional professional cleaning by your vet. What regular dental care can do for her is reduce the frequency of such cleanings and keep her healthier and happier for longer. Saves you a bundle of money too!