February is Dental Health Month

By Claudia Loomis

Dental Health; as important for your pet as it is for you!

Everyone knows that it is important to take good care of your teeth but dental health is equally important for our canine and feline companions. Aside from causing bad breath, plaque and tartar build up leads to tooth and gum infections that cause tremendous discomfort to our pets and threaten their overall health. Fortunately there are a number of great products available to help us keep our pets teeth clean, their breath fresh, and their gums healthy from puppy to senior.

The best defense is a good offenseA daily dental treat or chew such as Tropiclean Dental Chews, or a daily chew session with a special knobby textured Nylabone Dental Chew or a Nylabone Dental Dinosaur bone will help fight tartar buildup. It is best to give these after meals or when brushing is not possible. They provide mild abrasion to teeth and gums that will help fight plaque build up.

Other great products for daily dental care are Dental Fresh and TropiClean Fresh Breath Drops. A little added to your pet’s water bowl each day will also help fight plaque and tartar build up.

In addition, we have a new weapon in our arsenal to fight plaque called Plaque Off. This natural product is derived from granulated Norwegian seaweed and is added to your pet’s food (wet or dry). Once ingested, Plaque Off is secreted through the saliva to break down the bacterial biofilm that forms on teeth and gums thus preventing bacteria from taking hold.

The use of these products will help reduce plaque, but they are not a substitute for regular brushing. Regular use of dental treats, dental rinses and Plaque Off will make the brushing easier for you and your pet and maybe, just maybe, you won’t have to brush quite as frequently.

You can’t brush off brushingOK, there is no way around it. You will need to pick up a toothbrush and get busy. If you have never brushed your pets’ teeth before, it is important to try to make this a stress free time. To get your pet used to brushing, bring out the tooth brush weekly and be sure to praise your dog before and after brushing. This will help them view brushing time as a pleasant experience.

Pet toothbrushes come in a number of shapes and sizes and which one you use is a matter of personal preference. Personally, I like to use a finger brush, which slides over your finger, such as the one in the Oral Hygiene Kit. It allows me more of a sense of control, and I can reach in and get the back teeth. However, a finger brush means that your hand is in your pet’s mouth and this may not be for everyone.

A long handled toothbrush will allow you to keep your hand out of your pet’s mouth. There are several to choose from. There are traditional toothbrushes like those from Petrodex or triple surface brushes like the one offered by TropiClean. This toothbrush has bristles on three sides to hit all the tooth surfaces at once. I find when using the Three-in-One toothbrush you may need to go in with a more traditional brush to reach the gums. It is very important not to forget the gums. If you are purchasing a dental kit is a good idea to get a kit that comes complete with a massager for gums, such as the Pro-Sense Plus Whitening Dental Solutions Kit. Most gum massagers fit over your finger like the finger brush so you can get up close and personal with your pet’s gums.

How to BrushLift the upper lip gently and place the brush at a 45 degree angle. Gently move the brush back and forth being sure to touch every tooth. Repeat for the bottom teeth.

Never use human toothpaste on your pet
Many of our human toothpastes contain compounds that are safe for us but are harmful for our pets to ingest. Luckily your cat or dog has options when it comes to toothpaste. There are a number of different toothpastes to choose from, and it is a matter of personal preference as to which one your pet will like. Pet Toothpastes come in a range of flavors that appeal to pets such as peanut butter, poultry and liver. There are even all natural toothpastes and gels available.

There is no need to take a vacation from oral health while you are on vacation. If you are traveling with your pet there is no need to take a break from good oral hygiene. There are a number of products that travel well. Cherrybrook offers a PetzLife Oral Care Gel as well as several types of dental wipes that are easy to use and make taking care of you pets choppers a breeze. You can even use TropiClean Fresh Breath Drops to freshen Fido’s breath.