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Dental Care

Helpful information

Our nurses run free clinics to help you with your pet’s dental care, so book an appointment at reception, request online or call us for extra advice.

Stages of Dental Disease

Plaque is a mixture of food particles and bacteria which collect along the gum line. If plaque is not removed, minerals in the saliva combine with the plaque and form tartar which adheres strongly to the teeth. Tartar is irritating to the gums and can cause an inflammation called gingivitis. This can be seen as reddening of the gums adjacent to the teeth. It also causes bad breath. At this point, it is necessary to remove the tartar with special instruments called scalers, and then polish the teeth.

If the tartar is not removed, it builds up under the gums. It separates the gums from the teeth to form "pockets" and encourages even more bacterial growth. At this point, the damage is irreversible, (this is known as periodontal disease). It can be very painful for your pet and can lead to loose teeth, abscesses, and bone loss or infection. If treated by your veterinarian with special instruments and procedures, periodontal disease can be slowed or stopped, but tackling the issue before it becomes this serious is highly recommended.

Did you know that 85% of dogs and 70% of cats have dental disease by the age of 3!

What Can I Do?

There are a few things you can do to help keep your pet’s mouth as clean and comfortable as possible.

Tooth Brushing:

The gold standard of dental care is to brush your pet's teeth. There are many pet tooth brushes available which you can use with pet toothpaste. You must always use pet toothpaste - human products are not designed to be swallowed (most contain detergents and fluoride that will cause upset stomachs). You will only gain the benefits if you perform the dental care regime daily, just as you would for yourself.  

A plan to get your pet used to teeth brushing:

Ensure you introduce brushing your pet's teeth slowly: always be patient, always praise and reward; ensure you stop if there is any sign of aggression.

Day 1
Start by gently stroking the outside of your pet's cheeks with your finger only (no brush) and slowly lift the lip for about 30 seconds. Afterwards, give lots of praise and reward with a treat.

Day 2
Repeat Day 1 but this time, place a small amount of toothpaste on the end of your finger and let your pet sample it.

Days 3 & 4
Gently run your finger with a small amount of pet toothpaste over the teeth for 30 seconds.

Day 5
If you pet is tolerating its dental care, then try using a toothbrush rather than your finger; do this for 30 seconds. Don’t forget to give lots of praise and reward afterwards!

Days 6 & 7
Repeat Day 5 and gradually increase the time spent brushing the teeth to one minute.

If your pet does not respond well to tooth brushing, dental biscuits are an acceptable alternative (but not as good!)

Dental biscuits can be used to clean the tooth surface. Unlike normal dry food, dental biscuits are made to resist crumbling as soon as the animal bites into it. This means that your pet has to work harder to break it up and this creates a scrubbing action on the tooth as it is chewed, helping to clean the tooth. Some dental foods, such as RCW Dental also contain nutrients that help to reduce tartar deposits.

The diet can be used by itself or can be used as a supplement to an already existing regime – a few kibbles daily will be sufficient. RCW Dental biscuits can be ordered from reception.

Dental Chews & Treats

These are yummy treats which also double up as being beneficial for your pet’s oral hygiene. To get maximum benefit, use these in conjunction with tooth brushing.

As they are treats, they can be calorific and so it is important to limit how often they are given.

Supplements to Food/Water

These are more beneficial to use in conjunction with tooth brushing, rather than alone, to keep your pet’s teeth clean. Products such as Plaque Off (on food) and Aquadent (in water) can be used to help fight plaque formation and freshen breath.

Our nurses run free clinics to help you with your pet’s dental care, so book an appointment at reception, request one online or call us for extra advice.