Brushing your dog's teeth

1st February 2017

 

At Bollington Veterinary Centre we’re passionate about preventing dental disease in all our patients.

Diseases of the oral cavity, if left untreated, are often painful and can lead to more serious health problems including heart, lung and kidney disease. We see so many cats and dogs every week with early or advanced stages of periodontal disease – the term we use to refer to all stages of gum and tooth disease.

Whilst periodontal disease is one of the most common problems we see, it’s also one of the most preventable conditions.

 

Home dental care

The BVDA (British Veterinary Dental Association) recommends daily brushing of your pet’s teeth. If you’ve never attempted this before you might feel quite daunted, but we can assure you it’s possible and highly effective.

It's ideal to start when your pet is young, but if you've not done so already you can actually begin at any age.

 

Introducing dental brushing

To introduce a dog to the idea of dental care, start slowly and gradually. You can begin with your finger or a small soft finger brush (ask us for details) and gently rub along your dog's gums and teeth.

The most important area to focus on is the gum line where food and bacteria accumulate and form plaque. Start at the front of the mouth, then move to the back upper and lower teeth and gum areas. Obviously don’t do this if your dog is likely to bite or get upset. You may need some help to do this for the first time, so please call us for advice.

'Rub the teeth and gums in a circular or oval motion – don’t press too hard'

When your pet seems comfortable with a finger brush, continue with a soft pet toothbrush. The bristles should be held at a 45-degree angle to the tooth surface and be moved in an circular or oval motion. Gradually add dog toothpaste which are specially designed to be full of flavour and highly effective at cleaning. It’s important not use human toothpaste though as they usually contain mint and foaming agents which are unpleasant.

The entire process should only take a minute or two. It’s very important to avoid stressing your pet - keep the sessions short and positive.

 

Dry food can help

Home care can be improved by feeding your pet a dry pet food. We have specially formulated dental diets available to buy at Bollington Veterinary Centre that keep plaque to a minimum on the crown of each tooth. You may want to try one of these diets.

 

Do you check your pet’s teeth regularly?

Look for these signs;

  • discoloured teeth – brown or yellow appearance
  • bleeding gums – red and swollen
  • bad breath – a very unpleasant odour
  • loose teeth – there may be some missing
  • pus – look between the gums and teeth
  • broken teeth – look for exposed pulp cavities
  • unusual swelling in the mouth – small growths may occur on the gums
  • reluctance to eat – the mouth is painful
  • no more playing with chew toys – sore gums will cause this
  • backing off from cold drinks and water – that ‘ice cream with a bad tooth’ feeling

These are all warning signs of periodontal or gum disease. If you see any, it’s time to have the teeth checked by a professional. Book an appointment with one of our vets or nurses at Bollington Veterinary Centre.

 

Book a dental appointment

 

What’s involved with a dental examination?

There are two stages to dental care with us at Bollington Veterinary Centre.

1. The oral examination

Veterinary dental care begins at the puppy stage. As your pet ages, we’ll look for developmental anomalies, the accumulation of plaque and tartar, periodontal disease and growths. We would normally like to check your pets teeth several times a year where we will look for all the signs mentioned above.

2. Dental cleaning procedure

If cleaning is required, your pet will need to be induced under general anaesthesia. Our vet and nurse will check all the teeth carefully to look for any more serious signs of disease. The cleaning is done with a combination of hand held instruments, and ultrasonic descaler and an electric polisher. It’s very similar to a visit to the dentist yourself.