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Unfortunately dental and periodontal disease is extremely common in our dogs with 80% experiencing some level of dental/periodontal disease by just three years old. Regular teeth cleaning is an important part of their healthcare and can improve their quality of life. Starting brushing as a puppy is the best way to prevent dental disease in your dog. But never fear, you can introduce brushing to adult dogs too!
Your first port of call is to see your local vet for a thorough oral examination. Your vet will be able to determine the overall health of your dog’s teeth and gums. From there, a deep clean under general anaesthesia may be suggested, as well as modifications to their diet. After a professional dental clean, it’s best to begin daily teeth brushing to reduce plaque. If plaque is not removed, it can turn into a hard material called tartar. Remember that neither brushing or chews will remove this hardened tartar on the teeth - only a clean with your vet can eliminate this calcified material, which is why it’s best to prevent that build up of plaque in the first place.
By far the best way to clean your dog’s teeth is to brush them with a suitable toothbrush and water. Soft children’s toothbrushes are very effective or alternatively, you can find a pet toothbrush with a handle or a finger brush. Toothpaste is not usually necessary as it’s the physical brushing that removes the plaque, rather than the toothpaste. There are pet toothpastes available with antibacterial additives and flavours to make brushing more appealing to your dog. Don’t ever use human toothpaste on your pets: human toothpastes contain various chemicals that can cause illness in dogs, especially the sweetener xylitol, which is extremely toxic and can cause death.