I’m Peter Wong from Hidden Valley Smiles, and today I wanted to answer a question people ask quite often: how often should you brush your dog’s teeth?
So, first of all, there are a couple of ways to brush your dog’s teeth using a toothbrush made specifically for dogs, and you also want to use a toothpaste made for dogs too. Adding a breath freshener for dogs also can be a big help.
Several companies make finger brush or toothpaste kits for dogs, so you need to talk to your veterinarian to get the right one.
Why do you need to brush your dog’s teeth?
Brushing your dog’s teeth is essential. According to American Veterinary Dental College statistics, most dogs show some evidence of periodontal disease by age 3.
After your dog eats a meal, a film of white-yellowish plaque starts to deposit on the surface of his teeth. The plaque is easy to remove at this stage, and you can even scrape it off with your nail.
If you don’t remove plaque within 24 to 36 hours, minerals in the dog’s saliva cause plaque to harden into a substance known as tartar.
Preventing tartar buildup
At this point, you can’t remove tartar easily with your nails or with a toothbrush. It sticks to the dog’s teeth as coral reef larvae adhere to submerged rocks.
A veterinarian then needs to use specialized equipment like a hand scaler or an ultrasonic scaler to remove tartar. If you fail to remove hardened tartar from your dog’s teeth, it will keep accumulating in layers, and a cascading chain of events starts as tartar accumulates under the gum line.
First, tissue is damaged and the gums become inflamed, known as gingivitis, causing the gums to bleed and swell.
Then the bone and soft tissue surrounding your dog’s teeth are destroyed, leading to loose teeth and tooth root abscess development.
Is daily brushing necessary?
A few years ago, the consensus says to brush teeth two or three times per week. Now, however, most veterinarians recommend daily brushing. Brushing your dog’s teeth daily makes sense because plaque accumulates quickly, and it’s essential to prevent it from hardening into tartar as soon as possible.
Many dog owners may think brushing their teeth may be unnecessary or boring. But starting and maintaining daily teeth cleaning routines for your dog can help ensure he comes out of the vet’s office with a clean bill of health.
So, go ahead and start brushing your dog’s teeth today!
But even with regular brushing, understand you may need to periodically have your vet clean your dog’s teeth using veterinary dental equipment.
Dr. Peter Wong, DDS, Hidden Valley Smiles.