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Saturday, April 11, 2009

No Substitute for Teeth-brushing!

Forget about the dental chews, crunchy dog cookies and dental hygiene "toys." The doggy dental experts are now telling us that NOTHING does the job of cleaning your dog's teeth better than daily brushing.

According to leading canine dentists, brushing your dog's teeth every day does about 95% of the job. If you combined the use of all other dental aids, like rawhide strips, chew bones, water treatments, sprays and teeth-cleaning toys, they would all add up to just 5% effectiveness in minimizing plaque.

Imagine your dentist telling you to forget about brushing and just chew Dentine! It would never happen! The dentist isn't going to suggest you eat Fritos to "crunch" off tarter either. And yet, for years, vets have advocated feeding dry, crunchy kibble and bones to promote cleaner teeth! What gets the job done is plain old tooth-brushing....for dogs AND people.

The tool you use to clean your dog's teeth can be a finger, a cloth, or an old toothbrush. Most pet stores sell doggy toothpaste in wonderful flavors like liver, poultry, or peanut butter. The toothpaste will make the experience more palatable for your dog. Many are formulated with peroxide which will have an enzymatic effect in breaking down the protein on your dog's teeth.

The molars in the back of your dog's mouth are hard to reach. Try if you can, but concentrate primarily on the outside of the front teeth. Brush gently and check the brush for blood. If you haven't brushed your dog's teeth for a while, the gums may bleed...just as yours might when you floss without regularity. While blood can be a sign of gingivitis, stay aggressive with the tooth-brushing. You will probably see the bleeding lessen as the gums get "tougher."

If your dog has extremely bad breath, it could be caused by a low-grade infection in his teeth. Have the vet check him out. She may find teeth that need extraction. On the other hand, she may be able to clear up the problem with a simple cleaning and a short course of antibiotics.

Your dog will live longer if you keep his teeth clean. Put the toothbrush close to his bed at night...or even right next to your own toothbrush. That will make it easier for you to remember this very important DAILY task.

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