Brushing Those Pearly Whites

Or not so pearly, like most dogs. But this simple exercise can save you and your beloved furry monster hours and days and weeks of agony. A little agony paying off for a lot. Especially if you have a smaller dog. It’s been my experience, along with every other shark-lover I know, that little dogs have highly bacterial mouths. More so than big dogs. I’ve yet to receive a scientific answer from vets on the source of this ‘gift’.

So you’ve gone five years without brushing your dog’s teeth. No big. Then you notice a funky smell coming from their muzzle. And see a drop of blood. Maybe some puss. Congrats! You and your poor dog are now the proud owners of an oral abscess! Or some form of periodontitis funk. That’s worse case scenario. Which means oral/dental surgery. Which means your dog goes under and you shell out a boatload of cash.

But fear not, we haz stuff to CLEAN:

  1. Q-Tip dipped in sea salt water OR hydrogen peroxide. With all the trace elements and minerals in sea salt, this method can strengthen gums, eat away at tartar, and freshen your pup’s breath. It’s great for treating mouth sores and swollen gums, too! Hydrogen Peroxide is an oral debridement. It eviscerates bacteria that live in your dog’s mouth, of which there are plenty. For both solutions, take a clean Q-Tip and dip the ends in a little pool (use an old but cleaned bottle top), then go to town on your pup’s teeth. Pay attention to the gum line as that’s where bacteria loves to hang out. **Be careful with the peroxide, too much swallowing of this may make them throw up!
  2. A human toothbrush. I know, I know, WTH? If your dog has a big mouth and you can really get in there, I’ve found this works better. Use the above solutions or toothpaste from the pet store for dogs. DO NOT use human toothpaste. It has gunk in it that’s bad for your dog’s digestion. Yes, you can buy the pet store toothbrush but I’ve found that either a normal soft or baby soft brush works better. Just be gentle.
  3. Dental chews or bones. The idea behind the chews, of which we’ve had little success, is both the ‘chewing’ action and the polyphosphate. The chewing, yes, naturally cleans the teeth by applying a sort of abrasive via the larger surface area of the food. Softer bones also work. The polyphosphate prevents plaque from turning into tartar…supposedly. Again, haven’t had great results with this. Maybe it’s a good first step for some? But if your pup has digestion issues, then this may not work.
  4. Preventive dental. There are lots of conflicting opinions about this practice. It’s only popped up and gained popularity in the last few years. What it is–a dental cleaning using something akin to a water pik (my tech uses this). This works really great as exactly what it says–a preventive. Cleaning up (scale, probe, chart) plaque and tartar. What it isn’t–a traditional vet dental workup. Which requires a full anesthetic protocol. IF your dog has bleeding gums or puss, you’re probably gonna need number two–a full workup. Because extractions can only be done under full sedation. Don’t risk it if you’re not sure and ASK your vet. A teeth check should be part of your yearly checkup anyway. NOTE: preventives can be done under light sedation with fast reversal. Your vet can best guide you and your pup through the options.
  5. Full dental. See number 4.

*We’ve had lots of success sticking to NUMBER 1–SEA SALT every-other-day and NUMBER 4 every SIX months.

**All of the above is applicable to kitties except for the bones part. My felines get the Q-Tip treatment, too.

Happy brushing!


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