Dental disease is the most common problem seen in the pet population today. Approximately 85% of all dogs and cats seen by veterinarians are affected by dental problems. Most of these pets suffer from periodontal disease which causes bad breath, swollen gums, destruction of the bone supporting the teeth and tooth loss.
Homecare is the most important part of controlling periodontal disease. Once periodontal disease has progressed to a certain point, it cannot be reversed and so prevention becomes very important. Brushing your pet’s teeth at home in conjunction with routine visits for ultrasonic teeth cleaning is an effective way to help prevent this problem.
Getting started with dental homecare is a slow, gradual process that requires patience on your part. Kittens should be started at 8 – 12 weeks of age to familiarize them with the routine. Adult pets should be started as soon as possible. Start slowly by handling the mouth and running your finger along the teeth and gums. If your pet resists, play with him/her and try again. Use lots of love and praise to gain their confidence. Make it fun, but remember to go slowly and be patient. If you make it frightening, painful or advance too quickly, you won’t get very far.
Once your pet has accepted having his mouth worked with, you may begin using a toothbrush, in the same way you would brush your own teeth. DO NOT USE baking soda, salt or human toothpaste. These compounds will cause problems if they are swallowed. There are a variety of pet toothpaste available but remember, it’s the brushing that does most of the cleaning. Brushing daily is best, but twice a week is acceptable.
The success of your pet’s dental treatment is directly related to the quality of dental home care you give your pet, combined with professional scaling and polishing as required. If you have any problems brushing your pet’s teeth, your vet should be happy to help.