Care Tips (6 of
- Brushing Your Dog's Teeth
Brushing Your Dog's Teeth
Dental hygiene is often ignored in the dog. The outcome? Consider
what your teeth might look and feel like after months, years or
even a lifetime of neglect. They would be a wreck, and you would
be miserable. Yes, canine teeth also need frequent brushing to prevent
gum disease and early tooth loss, as well as just plain foul breath.
Despite the popular conception, dog biscuits and
bones do not keep the teeth clean and healthy. Although some veterinarians
feel that gnawing on these hard substances has benefit, it does
not prevent the buildup of plaque and tartar which, unless removed,
can lead to gum inflammation, tooth root abscesses and other oral
problems. That's the simple truth.
The teeth should be brushed at least once or twice
a week, more often if possible. As with grooming, acclimation is
best started early in the puppy's life.
To make a toothbrush, fold a square gauze pad loosely
around the tip of your index finger. Or you can use a small, soft
child's toothbrush or buy a special toothbrush from a veterinarian.
Dip the toothbrush or gauze pad in a toothpaste designed for dogs
(not for humans, since human formulations can upset the dog's stomach)
or into a paste made of baking soda and water. Next, vigorously
scrub the outside surfaces of the teeth, especially the rear teeth.
With the gauze pad, you may also try to gently massage the gums.
It is not necessary to brush the interior surfaces of the teeth.
Your veterinarian should check your dog's mouth
for tooth or gum disease during annual checkups. The most common
problem, tartar accumulation, resembles yellow or brown cement deposits
along the gum line or in the crevices of the teeth. Despite your
best efforts, a proper dental cleaning under general anesthesia
may need to be performed periodically in a veterinarian's office.
Certain breeds commonly retain their baby teeth,
especially the canines. In that case, duplicate sets of teeth are
seen in the dog's mouth after approximately six months of age. Retained
baby teeth can cause malocclusion, since they prevent adult teeth
from growing into their correct positions. Retained baby teeth are
often extracted by a veterinarian.