Dental Home Care

molar tooth with dental plaquePeriodontal disease

The most common dental problem with dogs is not decay (caries) as with us but periodontal disease. It occurs in over 85% of dogs over the age of three.  Consider the state of your teeth if you fail to clean them regularly. The dog’s mouth, because of its habits, contains considerably more bacteria and therefore unless you regularly provide some form of dental care there is every possibility that periodontal (oral) disease will occur. It is preferable if you can train your dog from a puppy to accept teeth  cleaning procedures but experience has shown that even elderly dogs can be trained to accept, and even enjoy, regular brushing.

Dogs have an advantage over us since their long flexible tongue naturally cleans the lingual (inside) surfaces of the teeth. In consequence calculus is not such a problem on these surfaces as it is with us.

How do I get my dog to accept teeth cleaning?

Make it as pleasurable as possible! For the first few days hold your dog as you normally do when petting him paying particular attention to handling him round the head using treats and praise as rewards. Do this particularly at meal times which for most dogs is the most pleasurable part of the day.  

It is worthwhile starting off with a specially designed canine toothbrush although an old human toothbrush can be used initially if you wish. Dip this in your dog’s dinner or freshly opened can of food and insert the brush gently between the lips with the bristles against the teeth at an angle of approximately 45 degrees to the tooth and gum surface. Gently move the bristles against teeth and gums. Initially concentrate on the large molar (cheek) teeth and allow the dog to consume some of the meal in between brushing sessions.

Gradually move forward to the small incisors (front teeth). This is the most sensitive part of the dog’s mouth and they frequently resent these teeth being cleaned. Calculus usually builds up mainly on the canines or fangs so if you are experiencing difficulties try to concentrate on these areas. Once used to the procedure some dogs become sufficiently tolerant to allow you to attempt to clean the lingual (inside) surface of the teeth. If you place a thumb or finger on the roof of your dog’s mouth it will prevent him from shutting his mouth.

If you have problems, please contact us. 

If you find your dog does not tolerate brushing under any circumstances there are today special foods that have been formulated to help tooth cleaning. There are also gels and other antiseptic solutions that can be applied on a daily basis. We will be pleased to advise you.

This client information sheet is based on material written by: Trevor Turner, BVetMed, MRCVS, FRSH, MCIArb, MAE. Adapted by Philip H Brain, BVSc, CMAVA, FACVSc (small animal medicine), FAVA

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