This is the most effective way to keep teeth clean and healthy BUT if you are going to brush your pet’s teeth you must do it daily to derive any real benefit. There is no real benefit from brushing either sporadically or even 3 times a week so it is a real commitment.
The younger the animal the easier it is to acclimatise them to the routine. Animals generally don’t like minty flavours and can’t spit out the foam produced by our toothpastes so you must use pet products which are also flavoured and don’t contain fluoride.
Instead, they have enzymes to help break down the plaque and are abrasive on the tooth surface. Start by getting your pet used to the sensation of brushing by gently stroking the cheek over the teeth in small, circular movements.
Then introduce the taste of the paste – often they’ll lick this off your finger. When you are ready to start brushing use either a very soft brush or a pet finger brush. Concentrate on the outside of the large canine teeth and the back molars.
You only have to lift the lip up to access these. If you can progress to cleaning inner and outer surfaces of all teeth you have reached an ideal situation but this is more difficult with cats.
What your pet eats influences the development of tartar and neither soft tinned nor kibble foods act to keep teeth clean. Hills t/d is one specifically formulated diet that acts more like a chew to help keep teeth clean but it must be fed as a minimum of 25% of the daily diet. It is tasty and both cats and dogs seem to enjoy the large kibble it comes in.
Chews and Solutions
There are now a variety of products that can be added to food, water or fed as treats that can help reduce plaque build-up. Generally they contain enzymes that help to break down the plaque. Here are some tips to help you get the best from them.
Water additives– eg: Vet Aquadent – fights bad breath and helps limit plaque formation. Introduce gradually to the animals water supply so as not to put them off drinking and build up to the manufacturer’s suggested volume over 10 – 14 days.
Plaque-off – again gradually introduce this seaweed based product to the pet’s food. This product may help reduce existing tartar and the manufacturer’s claim results are evident between 3-8 weeks. It should not be given to hyperthyroid cats as it contains iodine.
Chlorhexidine rinses – eg: Nolvadent – chlorhexidine based so antibacterial to help remove food particles and debris from teeth and gum lines. Can be used on a brush or applied directly to teeth by spray or on cotton wool.
Logic – An enzyme based paste that sticks to the teeth/gums and helps control bacterial build up and bread down plaque. It must stay in contact with the area for several minutes so your cat can maybe lick it off its paws or your dog lick it from your fingers
Chews & Rasks – there are very many available, mostly for dogs, that generally act in an abrasive fashion on the teeth and can also contain enzymes but they can be very high in calories so your pet’s diet should be adjusted accordingly.
A dental clean and polish involves a general anaesthetic when the veterinary surgeon examines the mouth and extracts any teeth that need to be removed. The teeth are scaled using an ultrasonic scaling instrument to remove all traces of tartar then polished with an abrasive paste to smooth out any ridges and therefore discourage further tartar build-up. It cannot remove staining.
After a dental cleaning it is usual to have a little blood stained saliva as the cleaning is done right up to and under the gum line, but this soon resolves.
The Park Veterinary Centre is offering free dental checks. One of the nurses will examine your pet’s mouth and advise about general dental health care and any treatment, either preventative or corrective, that may be necessary.
If the nurse advises that a dental procedure is required an appointment will be arranged to see a vet. Where possible this will be done during the same visit or on the morning of the dental procedure.
During this consultation the vet will perform a general health check and answer any queries you may have. (They may want to prescribe antibiotics before the procedure to minimise the amount of bacteria in the mouth). If felt appropriate, the vet may recommend an optional pre-operative blood test.
When we book the dental, we can offer an estimate for the price of the dental procedure although we stress it is an estimate as it is based on the time taken to extract any teeth and this can’t be too accurately assessed beforehand.