A good dental care program is an important part of maintaining your pet’s overall health. Ideally, you should brush your pet’s teeth daily, but brushing at least a few times a week is a good start. If you begin slowly, most pets will eventually learn to tolerate regular tooth brushing. Regular brushing will help prevent the buildup of plaque on your pet’s teeth which, unchecked, leads to the formation of hardened tartar. There are several different types of toothbrushes:
Finger Toothbrushes: These fit over your finger like a thimble, only larger. Finger toothbrushes are usually made of a soft rubber material with soft rubber bristles for cleaning. This type of toothbrush is easier for some people to use, since there is no brush to hold and manage, and are gentle on your pet’s teeth and gums. If you choose a finger toothbrush, since your hand is inside your pet’s mouth, be sure you are confident your pet will not bite.
Standard Toothbrushes: This type is similar to toothbrushes for humans, except the handle is usually longer and angled to help you reach into the pet’s mouth. The bristles are generally softer so they are gentle for pets. There are some new toothbrushes which have double heads for cleaning both the inner and outer surfaces of the teeth at the same time.
Wipes: You can also wrap sterile gauze strips around your finger and use this to brush your pet’s teeth. There are also special dental wipes and foam pads you can try. Pads, gauze and wipes are disposable; just use once and discard, so there is nothing to clean.
Choose the product which is easiest for you to use regularly. Whichever brush you choose, be sure to select a toothpaste formulated specifically for pets. Pet toothpaste, such as C.E.T. Enzymatic Toothpaste, is formulated in flavors such as beef and poultry to be palatable to your dog or cat. It also contains enzymes which work to kill bacteria. Never use human toothpaste, since it is not meant to be swallowed and pets are unable to spit. You may also consider an oral cleansing solution which can be used as a rinse or with a toothbrush instead of toothpaste.
To supplement your pet’s oral hygiene, try dental hygiene treats such as C.E.T. Oral Hygiene Chews for dogs or cats. These help keep the teeth clean two ways: the abrasive texture mechanically cleans the teeth during chewing, and the enzymes help fight bacteria.
Do you currently brush your pet’s teeth regularly?