As pet owners we treat our pet as members of our family, as with other members of the family our pet’s dental health is important. Unlike our human family members our pets can not tell us that their teeth are bothering them. It is up to us to check our pets teeth regularly.
The following are some tips that will help you help your pet keep his dazzling smile.
1) The Breath Test
Sniff your pet’s breath. Not a breath of fresh air? That's okay-normal pet breath isn't particularly fresh smelling. However, if you notice your pets breath is especially offensive and is accompanied by loss of appetite; vomiting or excessive drinking or urinating it's a good idea to take your pet to the vet.
2) Lip service
Once a week, with your pet facing you, lift his lip and examine his gums and teeth. The gums should be pink, not white or red, and should show no signs of swelling. His teeth should be clean, without any brownish tarter.
3) Signs of Oral Disease
The following are signs that your pet may have a problem in his mouth and should be checked by your veterinarian.
*Tumors on the gums
*Cysts under the tongue
4) Lowdown on Tooth Decay
Bacteria and plaque-forming foods can cause build up on your pet's teeth. This can harden into tartar possibly causing gingivitis, receding gums and tooth loss. One solution? Regular teeth cleaning of course.
5) Canine Tooth-Brushing Kit
Get yourself a toothbrush made especially for pets or a clean piece of soft gauze to wrap around your finger. Ask your vet for toothpaste made especially for pets or make a paste out of baking soda and water. Never use fluoride with dogs under six months of age—it can interfere with their enamel formation. And please do not use human toothpaste, which can irritate your pet’s stomach. Special mouthwashes for pets are also available—ask your vet.
6. Brightening the Pearly Whites
Taking these steps will make brushing a lot easier for the both of you:
*First get your pet used to the idea of having his teeth brushed. Massage his lips with your finger in a circular motion for 30 to 60 seconds once or twice a day for a few weeks.
*Then move on to his teeth and gums. When your pet seems comfortable being touched this way, put a little bit of pet-formulated toothpaste or a paste of baking soda and water on his lips to get him used to the taste.
*Next, introduce a toothbrush designed especially for pets it should be smaller than a human toothbrush and have softer bristles. Toothbrushes that you can wear over your finger (or a clean piece of gauze) are also available and allow you to give a nice massage to your pet’s gums.
*Finally, apply the toothpaste to his teeth for a gentle brushing, as in step 7.
A veterinary exam beforehand may be helpful to find out if your pet's gums are inflamed. If your pet has mild gingivitis, brushing too hard can hurt his gums.
7) Brushing Technique
Yes, there is actually a technique! Place the brush or your gauze-wrapped finger at a 45-degree angle to the teeth and clean in small, circular motions. Work on one area of your pet's mouth at a time, lifting his lip as necessary. The side of the tooth that touches the cheek usually has the most tartar, and giving a final downward stroke can help to remove it. If your pet resists having the inner surfaces of her teeth cleaned, don't fight it—only a small amount of tartar accumulates there. Once you get the technique down, go for a brushing two or three times a week.
8) Know Your Mouth Disorders
Getting familiar with the possible mouth problems your pet may encounter will help you determine when it's time to see a vet about treatment:
*Periodontal disease is a painful infection between the tooth and the gum that can result in tooth loss and spread infection to the rest of the body. Signs are loose teeth, bad breath, tooth pain, sneezing and nasal discharge.
*Gingivitis is an inflammation of the gums caused mainly by accumulation of plaque, tartar and disease-producing bacteria above and below the gum line. Signs include bleeding, red, swollen gums and bad breath. It is reversible with regular teeth cleanings.
*Halitosis—or bad breath—can be the first sign of a mouth problem and is caused by bacteria growing from food particles caught between the teeth or by gum infection. Regular teeth-brushing is a great solution. Swollen gums develop when tartar builds up and food gets stuck between the teeth. Regularly brushing your pet's teeth at home and getting annual cleanings at the vet can prevent tartar and gingivitis.
*Proliferating gum disease occurs when the gum grows over the teeth and must be treated to avoid gum infection. An inherited condition common to boxers and bull terriers, it can be treated with antibiotics.
*Mouth tumors appear as lumps in the gums. Some are malignant and must be surgically removed.
*Salivary cysts look like large, fluid-filled blisters under the tongue, but can also develop near the corners of the jaw. They require drainage, and the damaged saliva gland must be removed.
*Canine distemper teeth can occur if a dog had distemper as a puppy. Adult teeth can appear looking eroded and can often decay. As damage is permanent, decayed teeth should be removed by a vet.
9. Chew on This
Chew toys can satisfy your pet's natural desire to chomp, while making his teeth strong. Gnawing on a chew toy can also help massage his gums and help keep his teeth clean by scraping away soft tartar. Ask your vet to recommend toxin-free rawhide, nylon and rubber chew toys.
P.S.: Gnawing also reduces your pet's overall stress level, prevents boredom and gives him an appropriate outlet for his natural need to chew.
10. Diet for Healthy Teeth
Ask your vet about a specially formulated dry food that can slow down the formation of plaque and tartar. Also, avoid feeding your pet table scraps, instead giving him treats that are specially formulated to keep canine teeth healthy.