How would you feel if you never brushed your teeth?
This is how most dogs live, without ever getting a teeth brushing.
Dental care is very important for the overall health of your dog. Dental disease is extremely common in dogs. By age 3, over 80% of dogs have some form of dental disease.
What is dental disease?
Dental disease affects not only teeth, but also the gums and supporting structures surrounding the teeth. Think jaw bones and even inside cheeks and tongue.
The start of dental disease is plaque. Plaque is food particles and bacteria that builds up on the teeth.
When plaque isn't removed it hardens and turns into tartar.
Tartar is easily visible above the gum line but it's important to understand that tartar can also buildup below the gum line.
When tartar is below the gum line this causes inflammation and can damage the structures supporting the teeth and can lead to infection.
Signs of dental disease
- broken or loose teeth
- bad breath
- painful and bleeding gums or mouth
- refusal or inability to eat or drink
Importance of dental care
Dental care is important for your dog's overall health. It helps to prevent bad breath, plaque and tartar build up, tooth loss, oral pain, and organ damage.
Dental disease can lead to organ damage if left untreated from bacteria of plaque entering into the bloodstream.
How to care for your dog's teeth
- brush your dog's teeth daily
- provide healthy and safe chews
- feeding a fresh diet (kibble is full of starch and actually causes more buildup)
- provide toys that have features for scraping plaque (like these spikey toys)
- talk with your vet about a dental care routine
As you can see, there are multiple ways to keep your dog's dental hygiene in check even without brushing their teeth. But it's still important to brush your dog's teeth along with these other methods.
How to brush your dog's teeth
It's important to not just shove a toothbrush in your dog's mouth and start brushing their teeth, don't just jump in. Take each of these steps slowly and don't push your dog past their comfort limits. only move on to the next step once your dog is completely comfortable with the current step.
This training can take time and that's okay because we don't want to traumatize our dogs and make them hate getting their teeth brushed. Make sure to break it up and don't do it all in one sitting. Spread it out over multiple days.
- Get your dog comfortable with you touching their mouth and opening their mouth
- Massage your dog's face and gums with your hands
- Move on to touch each of your dog's teeth
- Next, wrap gauze around your finger and rub each tooth
- Work your way to using a toothbrush instead of your finger
Some dogs are more comfortable with their owners fingers being in their mouth than an object like a toothbrush.
NEVER use human toothpaste on your dog.
Check out this post to learn how to make your own DIY natural dog toothpaste.
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