A healthy mouth is a happy mouth, and to help keep everyone (pets included) cavity-free there are tips to follow as February is National Children’s Dental Month and Pet Dental Health Month.
Poor dental care in humans and pets can lead to severe health issues. In the case of dogs and cats, it can shorten their lifespan as periodontal disease can contribute to heart, liver and kidney problems.
Outside of going for a regular dental visit for a check-up and cleaning, here’s what you can do between visits.
For Babies and Children
- Avoid cleaning pacifiers with your own saliva or sharing utensils. Cavity-causing bacteria are passed through saliva.
- Begin cleaning baby’s mouth during the first few days after birth by wiping the gums with a clean, moist gauze pad or washcloth.
- Begin brushing as soon as baby’s first tooth grows in.
- Use fluoride toothpaste beginning with children younger than 3 years with an amount no more than the size of a grain of rice twice per day (morning and night). Children 3 to 6 years of age may use a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste.
- Continue to help children brush their teeth until you’re comfortable that your child can brush on his or her own.
- If children have two teeth touching, begin flossing teeth daily.
- Consider that children who regularly drink bottled water or fluorinated tap water may be missing the benefit of fluoride, which helps make tooth enamel more resistant to decay and helps repair weakened enamel.
- Avoid dipping pacifiers in sugar, honey, juice or sweetened drinks. It can lead to tooth decay.
The ADA recommends that the first dental visit take place within six months after the first tooth appears, but not later than the child’s first birthday.
- Brush between teeth to prevent tarter buildup along the gum line daily, or at least several times a week.
- Pets may resist brushing – it requires patience and training.
- Talk to your veterinarian about dental products, treats, or dental-specific diet recommendations.
- Avoid dental products containing Xylitol. It is highly toxic for dogs and questionable to cats
- Do not use human toothpaste to clean pets’ teeth and gums.
The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) says to watch out for dental disease signs in pets like red swollen gums or brownish-yellow tarter on teeth, bad breath, bleeding from the mouth, frequent pawing or rubbing at the face and/or mouth, abnormal chewing, drooling, or dropping food from the mouth or reluctance to eat – for example, picking it up and then spitting it out.
AVMA recommends pet’s teeth and gums get checked at least once a year by your veterinarian for early signs of a problem.
Photo by Gary Tamin, via Free Images.