ToothBrushing For Dogs And Cats

Toothbrushing for dogs. And cats!

“WHAT?!” you might respond.

Brushing of teeth. It’s not just for people any more.

Dogs and cats get calculus buildup on their teeth for the same reason people do. Our mouths, and our pets’ mouths contain minerals from saliva, and food particles. Normal bacteria in the mouth act upon these building blocks to form a matrix, a geometric pattern. If that matrix pattern is disturbed while the material is still in the plaque stage, the bacteria have to start completely over, making a new matrix. We have a 24 hour window to brush and stop the progression from plaque to calculus.

“So”, you ask, “if we have 24 hours to remove plaque, why do dentists ask us to brush after every meal?”

Two reasons. First, people’s teeth are subject to being invaded by cavity-producing bacteria, so removing the energy source for those bad bacteria is crucial to preventing cavities. Dogs’ and cats’ teeth rarely succumb to cavities.

The second reason we’re asked to brush our teeth multiple times each day is to catch areas of plaque we might have missed on a previous brushing. If you miss a crevice between two molars after breakfast, a brushing after lunch might hit that spot. Maybe after lunch, though, you miss some plaque between incisors, and a brushing after supper and before bed might disturb that developing matrix.

Truthfully, few people are going to brush their pets’ teeth more than once daily, but the principle is the same. As your pets’ care experts, our goal is to have you brush your pets’ teeth once daily.

Jack, Magic and Emily right after toothbrushing
Jack, Magic and Emily right after toothbrushing

As I sent Magic home after a dental prophy last week, her owner said, “I’ll try to brush her teeth as often as I can, and enlist the kids’ help. I’ll get them brushed at least once a week.”

I commended him for his commitment to regular brushing, but explained, “Any toothbrushing is better than no toothbrushing, and a brushing every weekend will certainly remove most of the plaque from late in the week. Keep in mind, however, that any plaque that has been converted to calculus in the preceding five or six days will be there until Magic’s next scaling and polishing. Calculus is hard, and cannot be brushed off.”

We talked further and Magic’s Dad committed to encouraging the youngsters to make the step from Webkins to Magic’s dental care.

An aid to both canine and feline dental care is Hills Prescription Diet t/d. Recall that there are two main ingredients in calculus: minerals from saliva and food particles. t/d contributes to the “food particles” component less. In addition, t/d has fibers in the kibble that are designed to squeegee the teeth as the pet bites into it.

Don’t be put off by the fact that it’s large kibble. The “original bites” size of kibble has been tested by Hills to be accepted by Yorkshire Terriers down to two (2) pounds of body weight. While Hills gave in to pressure and now makes t/d in a “small bites” version, the original size is more effective because it forces your dog to chew it. It’s in the chewing that the squeegee action takes place.

My personal testimony about Prescription Diet t/d is that my own Poodles, Peyton and Pearl, have eaten it for most of their lives. It extends their time between dental prophylaxis up to three years.

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