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Dental Care: Simple Steps To Easier Brushing


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1. Try to get your pets used to having their mouth area and muzzle handled.

2. Start by gently handling the muzzle area for a few seconds on a regular basis. 

  • Provide lots of praise and positive reward. As soon as your pet starts to show their dislike, stop and try again later. For best results with puppies and kittens, choose “quiet times” only for handling the mouth and muzzle area and end each session on a positive note.

3. Next, introduce pet toothpaste.

  • The function of veterinary toothpaste is not only to clean the teeth, but also to serve as a tasty treat to make the brushing process more pleasant
  • Introduce a small amount of toothpaste with your finger and gently rub the toothpaste onto the teeth in the same manner you would with a toothbrush – small circular motions
  • Start with the canine teeth (fangs) and gradually work around the entire mouth. Be sure to include the gums as well as the teeth

4. Now it’s time to introduce the toothbrush.

  • It is the mechanical action of the toothbrush that cleans your pets’ teeth, so this is a crucial stage
  • Use a toothbrush provided by your veterinarian or a very soft bristled child’s toothbrush with a small head
  • Always wet the bristles of the brush before placing the toothbrush into your pets’ mouth
  • Place a line of toothpaste on the brush and press it firmly into the bristles with your finger
  • Hold the toothbrush like a pen and concentrate solely on the canine teeth for the first few days, until your pet has accepted the toothbrush. Angle the brush at 45 degrees if possible

5. Once your pet has accepted the toothbrush and toothpaste, you can start to use a gentle, circular motion and work along the top teeth from the canines to the back of the mouth. [Sometimes, holding the muzzle closed while you are cleaning the teeth will help prevent your pet from biting on the toothbrush].

  • Repeat on the other side
  • Gradually build up the amount of time and pressure applied to each tooth
  • Once you and your pet are comfortable with the top teeth being brushed, your attention can then move to the bottom row of teeth, using the same process
  • The good news is that most of the tartar accumulation occurs on the outside surface of the teeth so it is not necessary to brush the inside surfaces
  • The speed of this step is dependant on your pet and may take several days to a month to master

6. Your final step is brushing the front teeth.

  • Approach your pet from behind their head and use an up and down motion

7. Remember to continually give praise and positive reward.

Should you have any questions regarding the above process, please ask any member of our veterinary health care team, during normal office hours, for a demonstration and/or any additional helpful hints.

The time and effort that you commit to this training process can make a significant improvement in your pet’s dental health. This will impact the quality of the life of your pet and enhance the bond that you will share with your treasured companion.

Reference Waltham FOCUS Vol 13, No. 2, 2003

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