Just like people, our animals need yearly dental cleanings by the vet, as well as daily brushing with special toothpaste that’s made just for them. It is important to realize that dental disease does NOT affect just the mouth. The harmful bacteria that forms during this process can shorten your pet’s life when it invades their bloodstream. The bacteria can directly damage the kidneys leading to kidney failure. This bacteria has also been well-known to cause infections of the heart valves-causing heart murmurs, possibly leading to heart failure. Unfortunately, without proper yearly dental cleanings and daily brushing 80% of dogs and 70% of cats will show signs of oral disease by 3 yrs of age. This makes it all the more important that you provide your pets with proper dental care from the start to prevent these life-threatening diseases before they start!
Periodontal disease is an infection of the tissue surrounding the teeth. It starts out as a bacterial film called plaque that form on the teeth. This will eventually harden into tartar or calculus, which causes more plaque to build up. Initially, plaque is soft and brushing or chewing hard food and toys can dislodge it. If left to spread, plaque can lead to gingivitis, an inflammation of the gums, causing them to become red and swollen and to bleed easily, and eventually leads to the loss of teeth.
HOW TO BRUSH YOUR PETS TEETH
To introduce pets to dental care, start slowly and gradually. Dip a finger into beef bouillon (for dogs) or tuna water (for cats) and gently rub along your pet's gums and teeth. The most important area to focus on is the gum line (the crevice where the gums meet the teeth), where bacteria and food mix to form plaque. Focusing on the gum line, start at the front of the mouth, then move to the back upper and lower teeth and gum areas. Once your pet is okay with a little bit of touching, gradually introduce gauze over your finger and rub the teeth and gums in a circular fashion.
When your pet can handle the gauze, try brushing with a toothbrush specially designed for pets or a very soft, ultra-sensitive toothbrush designed for people. The bristles should be held at a 45-degree angle to the tooth surface and be moved in an oval motion. Scrub in the gum line, as this is where odor and infection begin. Gradually add special dog/cat toothpaste, but NEVER use people toothpaste or baking soda, as both will upset your pet's stomach.
Use the following process to clean the inside surfaces of your pet's teeth: