Vet Blog

How to Properly Brush My Pet’s Teeth to Maintain Good Oral Health

February 28, 2019

You obviously want your pet to be able to use his teeth effectively for as long as possible.

He depends on them for many reasons, including for eating, picking up objects, and defending himself and if the function of his teeth is compromised by pain or other problems, it will be impossible for him to use them properly. In addition to this, poor oral health has shown to be a key contributor to the development of dental disease - a condition characterized by inflammation of the gum tissue which eventually leads to bleeding gums, bad breath, loose/lost teeth, jaw bone deterioration, and severe pain. Pets that are diagnosed with dental disease have also shown to be more likely to suffer from generalized health problems that include heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and some cancers.

How Does Brushing My Pet's Teeth Help?

When your pet eats, the carbohydrates in his food interact with bacteria already present in his mouth. When this happens, they form a sticky film known as plaque that adheres to his teeth. Filled with bad bacteria, plaque can cause tooth decay and lead to dental disease. However, if you can remove the food debris and keep the level of bacteria in your pet's mouth under control, you can help stop the development of a range of different dental problems as well as prevent any associated health issues as mentioned previously.

Ideally, you should aim to brush your pet's teeth for at least 30 seconds every day. However, pet dentists recommend that you clean them as thoroughly as possible for at least a minute or two each week for optimal dental health. The sooner you can remove debris and bacteria from his mouth, the less likely he is to have his oral health compromised.

The Right Equipment for Brushing Your Pet's Teeth

Before you can start brushing, you first need to ensure that you have the right equipment to hand. This includes a soft-bristled, small-headed toothbrush and a toothpaste that is created specifically for your type of pet. Never be tempted to use human varieties of toothpaste as they contain ingredients that are highly toxic to animals. You may also want to have a dental treat ready to reward him for good behavior once you are done!

How to Brush Your Pet's Teeth in a Few Simple Steps

  • Firstly, position your pet so that you have easy access to his mouth. Some owners of smaller pets will place their furbaby on their laps, while others with larger pets will sit them in front of them and hold them gently between their knees.
  • Introduce your pet to the toothpaste first of all by squeezing a small amount onto your finger or the toothbrush and letting him sniff and lick it. If he licks it clean, you are good to go with this flavor toothpaste. However, if he turns his nose up, you may need to consider swapping to an alternative flavor.
  • Once your pet is happy with his toothpaste, gently lift up his upper gum and place the toothbrush, with a small amount of paste on top, against the outer face of one of his teeth. Brush it slowly in small, circular motions. You don't need to be overly firm or aggressive, just let the brush do the work.
  • Your pet may only let you brush one tooth the first time you undertake this aspect of her care, but over time nearly all pets will quickly be able to tolerate brushing his entire smile.
  • If you have any concerns about brushing your pet's teeth, or if you would like more advice on which technique is most effective, your pet dentist will be able to offer their support.
  • Make sure you offer reassuring words throughout the process and reward your furbaby with a dental treat at the end. This positive reinforcement will make it easier for your pet to sit through further cleanings.

If you are still unsure how to properly brush your pet's teeth and you would like some expert advice, our pet dentistry team would be happy to offer their knowledge and experience to you and your pet. Please contact our veterinary clinic in Orlando, FL today to make an appointment.