If your dog has less love for her toothbrush than her rib bone, she is obviously not alone. Haha!
But if you read Dental Scaling under General Anaesthesia! Oh no! on this blog in June then perhaps you would agree with me that teeth brushing is an important routine for the dog, regardless of her, ahem, lack of fondness for her toothbrush.
In this post, I’m will go through:
- How regularly we’re brushing Donna’s teeth
- How I tried to help Donna like her tooth brush
- The pet toothbrush that didn’t work for Donna
- The pet toothbrush that worked for Donna
- How to brush a dog’s teeth
- And is it really true that we can’t use human toothbrushes for dogs?
Regular toothbrushing keeps dog’s teeth clean and gums healthy
I try to brush Donna’s teeth every day. Plaque starts forming on teeth 4 to 12 hours after brushing so it seems to be me that at least once a day will help remove plague more efficiently than 2-3 times a week.
When plaque is not removed, it hardens to become tartar. Tartar can only be removed by a dental professional. So of course I would want to remove plague effectively now than to pay more money more frequently for dental work at the vet. More about.
It’s not Donna’s favourite routine. And I have to admit that Donna’s lack of love of her toothbrush largely stemmed from the human’s bungling tooth brushing skills.
Helping Donna get used to having a toothbrush in her mouth
I did alright at first. I helped her like her toothbrush by making it part of a fun game of fetch…
… although she did attempt to chew off the plastic handle at some point. Hmmm…
And she liked the flavour of the toothpaste I bought whether it was mint or poultry flavour.
But there was a one thing I did wrong.
I bought the wrong toothbrush for Donna
Being a dog newbie at the time, I decided to buy a dental kit that will give me both toothpaste and toothbrush. The pet shop offered a modest selection.
I chose the TropiClean dental kit based on the following:
- word of mouth recommendation
- two choices of toothbrushes to experiment with
- all the products in one pack, no need to think about what brand toothpaste to buy
- fancy toothbrush, I thought it could reach all the teeth surfaces better since it’s multi-dimensional
- vet recommended label
But this kit was the wrong kit for Donna because:
- Donna’s mouth was small and narrow and it was hard to use the finger brush in her mouth
- The TripleFlex technology toothbrush has hard bristles. I imagine it hurt to brush with it because Donna more with this toothbrush and I could sometimes see blood on it after brushing her teeth!!
No wonder Donna hated the toothbrush!
I bought a less fancy but better toothbrush for Donna
So the next time round, I bought the less fancy looking Virbac C.E.T Home Dental Kit.
I chose the Virbac dental kit based on the following:
- Recognisable brand carried by Donna’s Vet
- Option for a small bristle toothbrush head to brush Donna’s small teeth in her narrow mouth
- Softer bristles compared to the TropiClean brush
- Enzymatic toothpaste – antibacterial so it inhibits the formation of plague
The switch in toothbrushes was a success!
Donna is now less resistant to brushing her teeth compared to previously. And while she still doesn’t love her toothbrush that much, at least she didn’t hate it as much as before!
The best thing?
No more bleeding gums when I brush her teeth!
Now that we’ve settled on the toothbrush, there’s still the matter of how exactly do you brush the dog’s teeth?
How do you brush your dog’s teeth?
I admit, I am the thorough and fastidious sort.
As a child in primary school, I used to follow exactly what the school dentist taught us as we squatted along the drain to brush our teeth together – you brush from your gum outwards with exactly ten strokes each and slowly proceed from one end of your set of teeth to the other end. And you repeat that with the teeth facing the inside of your cheeks and also the side of your teeth in your mouth cavity, and of course both top and bottom sets of teeth, etc, etc, etc.
I didn’t subject Donna to this of course, but I did try to be thorough for her good dental health. *Oops!*
But according to this video, dog teeth brushing appears to be a lot easier than what I was trying to do with Donna. So, go see if you would like to have a reference. If you have trouble playing the video, you can also check out the slideshow here.
While the video says that the finger toothbrush works just as well as the bristle toothbrush, be aware of the strength you use when brushing your dog’s teeth. Toa Payoh Vets has this case study of a Miniature Schnauzer with two loose front teeth and exposed roots. Brushing too vigorously can cause the dogs to experience receding gums, which is not good for them.
And if you’re extremely interested (haha!), here’s the recommended brushing technique, as used in the VOHC trials, available here – VOHC Brushing Protocol.
So they say you can’t use a human toothbrush for the dog’s teeth… is that true?
Every webpage I read when I researched dog teeth brushing tells me the dog needs to have a specialised dog toothbrush.
Is it the way the brush head is angled to enable the human to brush a pet’s teeth more easily?
It certainly didn’t seem like a more complex toothbrush design helped Donna, compared to the simpler toothbrush we bought later on…
Imagine my surprise when I read the following on the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC) webpage for Products Awarded the VOHC Seal of Acceptance because they met “VOHC’s standards for effectiveness in retarding plaque and tartar when used as directed”.
ADA-compliant soft-bristle, flat head toothbrush
The only toothbrush that occurs in the all the dental products listed the accepted products list is “a tooth brush compliant with the American Dental Association standard ISO 20126:2005“.
And a ‘child-sized brush with soft bristles and a flat profile head was used in dogs in a trial conducted according to VOHC protocols…. The ADA standard ensures that the bristles have rounded tips to avoid damaging the gums‘.
Is it just me or does it seem like we’re better off using child tooth brushes compliant to the ISO standard for our dogs???
Note: VOHC is not a regulatory agency. Submission of results of clinical trials to VOHC on behalf of a product is voluntary. More here.
That’s certainly something that confused me. And I guess I won’t be so quick to express doubt when someone tells me they are using child toothbrushes on their dog next time round. ; )
Do you brush your dog’s teeth?
What sort of toothbrush and toothpaste do you like to use?
Some products on Amazon with VOHC Seal of Acceptance
Milk-Bone Brushing Chews Daily Dental Treats – Small/Medium Value Pack, 22 Ounce – 28 Bones
Greenies Dental Chews for Dogs, Regular, Pack of 27