Good Dental Care at Home

brushing teeth

Good dental health is essential to help your pet enjoy a longer, healthier life and a better quality of life. Regular home care will help maintain your pet’s dental health and help you recognize early signs of oral disease. Controlling plaque, which is an invisible film, is the key to preventing periodontal disease. Prevention and management of periodontal disease begins at home by training our pets to accept the cleaning of their teeth. It is best to begin home care when a puppy or kitten is between 8 and 12 weeks of age. However, it is never too late to train your pet to enjoy tooth brushing. The daily brushing process should be pleasant for both you and your pet. Most pets enjoy the added attention while many owners look forward to the close quality time spent with their companion.

This activity is the best thing you, personally, can do for your pet’s dental health and it’s also the most affordable! All you really need are the supplies listed below for a quick and easy brushing.

  • A brush—This can be a “finger” brush, or a soft toothbrush, preferably one specifically designed for dogs and cats.
  • Toothpaste—We do NOT recommend human toothpaste for this practice. There are affordable toothpastes for animals on the market, like CET toothpaste, that come in flavors that your pet will find delicious.
  • Treats!—Keep your pet’s favorite treat, toy, or activity handy to reward good behavior. He or she will start to associate brushing sessions with a most favorite snack, a meal in the morning, or playtime. They may even start looking forward to it!
  • Patience—Try not to get frustrated with your pet if he or she doesn’t sit still or is uncooperative. Keep trying, if only for a few steps each day. Always use calm, loving voices and body language so that tooth brushing is a fun and easy experience for you both!

Most pets will accept tooth brushing if they are introduced to the procedure in a calm and patient way. Follow these gradual steps to ensure success. Proceed to the next step only after your pet is comfortable in allowing you to perform the step.

  • STEP 1—Gently pet and scratch the muzzle, slowly sliding your finger under the lips for about 20 seconds. Be relaxed, and speak in a happy tone of voice. Do not restrain your pet; scratch the chin or ears with your free hand for comfort. Start with the front teeth first and then move to the sides later. Reward with a treat, toy, or fun activity and praise at the end of each session.
  • STEP 2—Repeat as above except gently run your finger over your pet’s teeth for 30–45 seconds. Reward as in Step 1.
  • STEP 3—Apply a small amount of the pet toothpaste to your finger and follow Step 2. Reward as in Step 1.
  • STEP 4—Apply a small amount of the pet toothpaste to the finger brush or toothbrush and gently run the brush over the teeth for 15 seconds. Reward as in Step 1.

If you are having trouble, we have some helpful hints for you that have worked for our other patients. If you are feeling especially frustrated, please contact us [link to contact us page] for extra help and guidance.

  • Be patient—Don’t move to the next step until your pet is completely comfortable with the previous step. Take time with the process so that your pet doesn’t become resistant. If you are relaxed, and act like you are having fun, your pet will also be relaxed.
  • Make it fun!—If your pet’s favorite activity is a walk, or ball playing, then use that as a reward immediately after brushing.
  • Familiarize them—To help your pet accept the toothbrush, allow your pet to lick and mouth the toothbrush after dipping it in broth or another tasty treat.
  • Know when to stop—Stop immediately if your pet becomes resistant or aggressive. Start over with an earlier step, and then proceed more slowly.

Listed below are some additional supplies that will aid your mission for better dental health. Contact us with any questions about using these products or ask your veterinarian about obtaining these at your pet’s next visit.

  • OraVet applied once weekly after a professional cleaning and application helps prevent plaque adhesion to the teeth.
  • T/D Diet (Hill’s brand) has been proven to decrease plaque and calculus formation. This is designed to be fed as a regular food for dogs and cats.
  • Greenies brand treats and treated chews fed regularly aid in removal of plaque primarily from the back teeth.

Combining daily brushing with OraVet, dental diets, and treats will improve plaque control. Always look for the VOHC seal of approval, which indicates proven effectiveness in controlling plaque and calculus.