Pearly Whites

by DFS-Pet-Blog on February 9, 2010

**Guest post from Matt S.**

Dog TeethDental care is a vital part of any pet wellness program. With February being Pet Dental Month, it seems like a perfect time to discuss some of the simple steps you can take to improve your dog’s dental well-being, and ultimately, his overall health.

Dog dental care does not need to be difficult; however, it does take more than giving your dog a chew bone and occasionally taking a try at brushing his teeth. Ideally, you will begin caring for your dog’s teeth as a puppy. We routinely exam our own puppies’ teeth beginning at a young age. Part of the reason is to watch for any problems and to make sure they are “shedding” their baby teeth and the adult teeth are coming in well. However, the bigger reason is to get them accustomed to oral care for later in life.

Dog-TeethFeeding dry kibble dog food and providing chew bones are two valuable “aids” for dental care. Notice they are only “aids,” and will never be substitutes for dental care. They will help minimize plaque build-up, but not prevent it.

A great time to perform dental care is during a bath. Your dog is already partially secured, and you have water accessible to rinse away any excess toothpaste or saliva that is just inherently part of the process.

The most critical tool for dog dental care is not the toothbrush, but the tooth scaler. Unless you are one of those precious few who are committed enough to brush your dog’s teeth on a daily basis, it is inevitable that your dog is going to have some plaque build-up. All of the brushing in the world is not going to remove plaque once it sets up shop on your dog’s teeth. Plaque is removed with use of a tooth scaler. You can use a pet tooth scaler, or even better is an actual human dentist’s scraper, if you can obtain one. The human versions have smaller tips that allow you to be more precise, and ultimately more effective.

To begin the cleaning process, start with the tooth scaler. Plaque will accumulate heaviest against the gumline. With the tip of the scaler, push up the gumline slightly and pull down against the plaque line. The plaque will often chip right off in scaly chunks. Sometimes, it is a little more resilient and the entire face of the tooth needs to be scraped clean. Keep scraping until all plaque is removed from the tooth. It is not uncommon for the gums to bleed slightly after scraping. The gum tissue is very sensitive, so you need to be careful to not cut the gums with the tooth scaler. However, don’t be alarmed when you see some blood. This is actually very beneficial as it helps flush any newly-exposed bacteria from the area. If the bleeding prevents you from being able to see the remaining plaque, you can rinse the mouth with water and wait a minute or two before continuing. Scrape all teeth that show any plaque build-up. Typically, the molars and canine teeth develop the most plaque; however, the incisors and premolars can also develop some build-up as well.

Dog dental care items.

Dog dental care items.

Once all of the plaque is removed from the teeth, you are ready to brush your dog’s teeth. Using a dog toothpaste and toothbrush, gently brush all tooth surfaces. A good dog toothpaste will have a palatable flavor that your dog will enjoy. One of the finest dog toothbrush currently available is the Triple Pet Toothbrush. It does a great job of reaching the inside surfaces of the teeth. Once again, a small amount of bleeding is not uncommon, and nothing to be worried about. Following brushing, you can rinse the mouth with a chlorhexidine solution, which will help remove any bacteria in the mouth.

Many people find that even after a complete dental cleaning, their dog’s teeth still do not appear white, particularly if their pet is older. A great little trick to whiten dog’s teeth is to swab each tooth with a cotton ball soaked in hydrogen peroxide. The hydrogen peroxide will help clean and “bleach” the stains on the tooth’s enamel.

Dental Dog Biscuits

Dental Dog Biscuits

Finally, reward your dog with a dental chew toy or dental treat. This will help minimize plaque build-up, making your job even easier next time!

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Christiane Rudolf February 13, 2010 at 9:27 am

I have been giving my dogs raw beef knucklebones that I get from the local meat packing plant. They flash freeze them, so they are really fresh, and I go there about every 6 weeks to get new ones. I keep them in my chest freezer until they are ready to be used. Each dog gets one once a month and they really love them. I have not had to clean one tooth since I have been doing this, and my dogs(show, working and pets) have pearly white teeth and no bad breath.

Terri McCarthy April 16, 2010 at 11:03 am

I have 4 dogs right now and I have to make time to keep their teeth in good condition. Thanks for the great tips on using the people scaler. I will have to try that.

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