If you’ve been to one of our clinics, you’ve probably heard us talk about how important brushing your dog’s teeth regularly is. We’re using National Pet Dental Health Month to encourage brushing and shine more light on how helpful regular brushings can be. It’s easy to forget to brush, especially if you’re just starting out. And even harder if your dog isn’t used to brushing yet. And most of all, if you are coming in for regular cleanings, you may think you’re doing as much as you can. Although regular cleanings are a great start (way to go!), regular brushing can make a huge difference in your dog’s mouth health.
People often think that brushing your dogs teeth is just to remove tartar from the teeth surface, but it does a lot more. The gums are the barrier between all the bacteria and gunk floating around in your dog’s mouth and the roots of the teeth. As the gums loosen and detach from the tooth surface, it leaves room for things like food particles to find their way in and get stuck there, eventually turning into bacteria. The gums can loosen and recede up to the tooth root which can lead to serious problems.
We often discuss how tartar build up can push on the gums and cause gum recession. So regular cleanings are needed to remove the hardened tartar. But even with regular cleanings, the gums can become loose. So what do you do?
Brushing your dog’s teeth can help strengthen the gums. The bristles of the toothbrush gently massage the gums. It is important to use a soft toothbrush intended for dogs, or an infant human toothbrush.
If you are just starting to brush, or have forgotten and are just getting back into it, your dog’s gums made bleed. Just like if you floss for the first time in a while, your gums usually bleed a bit too. When starting to brush, use a very gentle pressure. You can increase the pressure every few days as your dog’s gums begin to strengthen. The important thing is, don’t stop brushing. (Unless there is a lot of bleeding, then you should check for cuts or bad inflammation and perhaps see your vet. )
If you need a refresher on how to brush your dog’s teeth, check out our video here.
Stay tuned for a special Pet Dental Health Month series on one of our staff dogs who has loose gums and will be brushing every day this month to show the difference regular brushing can make.