The following is an edited transcript of the video above:

Today I want to talk about at-home dental care. This is really an important yet pretty neglected aspect of pet care in the overall general population and I am just as guilty as everybody else. It’s not an easy thing to do, but hopefully we can share some easy to follow strategies for you to do at home.

We spent the first couple months of this year promoting dental health; We have National Pet Dental Health Month in February. We really try to get these dentals done to get your pet’s mouth clean and get them back to square one. However, once they then leave the hospital, the plaque and calculus starts to build up again. So, once the mouth is healed from the dental, my goal is to then start at-home oral health care to prevent the accumulation of plaque and calculus to keep their gums healthier for longer and extend the time between their next dental. I don’t want to do a dental every six months or every year, we do it because we have to. With that said, if we can do some at-home care (which will extend that to every two, three, four years etc), that’s going to not only be way better for you and your pocketbook but an overall healthier pet, which is the goal.

But what are the three main strategies? There’s a ton of different products out there, yet most of them don’t do anything at all. Starting one or all three of these things can really give you the best bang for your buck. The best and most consistent thing you can do: daily teeth-brushing. Even though it’s the most tedious strategy of them all, it’s a task that us humans follow and works best for us. What daily tooth brushing does is it eliminates the bacteria build up in your mouth by mechanically removing it. Another thing bacteria does is it creates a biofilm, a mucus layer over your teeth (commonly felt in the morning when you wake up). This mucus layer is what you want to get rid of because that mucus protects the bacteria and gives them a nice place to live. That mucous layer will then eventually calcify and that’s when they get that hard calculus on their teeth, protecting the bacteria even more. By mechanically removing that build-up with daily tooth-brushing it ensures a cleaner mouth and is ultimately the best strategy to keeping it that way. Warning: you can’t use human toothpaste with dogs and cats, it needs to be a dog or cat toothpaste because they need to be able to swallow it. Toothpaste should be seen as a treat to your pet so pick a flavor you know they will enjoy. Choosing a toothbrush is another essential aspect, at the hospital we have these long dual-end tooth brushes which are perfect for reaching the back teeth. Also, the dentists will tell you that unless you’re brushing their teeth at least every other day, you’re not doing any good at all. The only people I’ve seen be successful with this strategy are the ones who make it a habit to do it on a daily basis. Don’t pay to have it done when you’re taking them to the groomer because it’s a total waste of money. You have to get in the habit of doing it everyday. You brush your teeth, you brush their teeth, and then everybody goes to bed. it’s without a doubt the best thing you can do.

However, a lot of people don’t do it and it’s difficult. Personally, I don’t do it with my own dogs and I understand that it is not an easy task but it’s one of those things where if you can train your animal to enjoy it, then that’s the best option. Now the two other strategies/options that we have here at the hospital include: a dental diet or Oravet Chews.

Let’s first talk about dental diets. It turns out kibble doesn’t benefit a dog’s teeth whatsoever. Kibble itself has no real form to it and is not strong enough to withstand any of the chewing action of a dog, so there is no benefit reaped. However, they have created a diet formulated to stay together in a hard kibble. When a dog bites through the kibble it stays together and does some brushing action along the teeth as they chew, which is what we want. However, the limitation of the diet is that it only targets their chewing teeth and molars, though these teeth are a main place where plaque and calculus build up. Another limitation of the diet is that it’s not an option for dogs with allergies, unless they are well-controlled. Another nice thing about this dental diet is that it doesn’t need to be 100% of their diet, it can be 50%. Mixing 50% of the diet with their regular food will at least give them some benefit.. Every dog has to eat, so if you can give them a kibble that is going to help their teeth, then it’s a pretty convenient and easy way to go. The diet is called Hill’s Veterinary Prescription T/D diet and is for both cats and dogs.

The third option is dental treats and dental chews. At first I didn’t recommend dental chews because they didn’t work all that well. Greenies are a perfect example, a dog takes two bites and swallows the chew whole, which does not benefit a dog’s teeth. A dog needs something they’re going to chew on and give them that brushing action since ingesting a chew after two bites won’t internally remove plaque and calculus. Fortunately, there’s a new treat that came out recently which has data to show that it can reduce plaque and calculus. These new treats are called OraVet Chews and how they work is that they contain a compound called delmopinol. Delmopinol helps prevent the bacterial attachment to your teeth – think of it as a Teflon coating preventing the bacteria from attaching. Another positive of these chews is the bendy, chewy, taffy-like consistency of the treat. This is good because as they chew it, they’re not just crunching and swallowing the treat, they actually have to work on it is as they chew. This combination of both chewing and the taffy like consistency creates a gummy surface that coats both the interior and exterior surface of the teeth. By getting all the different areas of the teeth and coating it to prevent that bacterial attachment, the chew has been shown to reduce plaque and calculus by about 50%. It also brings down halitosis (bad breath) by about 40-50%, which is another plus. A reminder with any of these options, you have to do it daily or at least every other day for it to really work. However, it is a good option and I do recommend the OraVet Chews..

So between those three things: daily tooth brushing, the Hills T/D Diet which will actually do that brushing action, the OraVet Chews that has delmopinol in it and has that coating which is going to get all the surfaces of the teeth…those three strategies can really decrease the total amount of plaque and calculus accumulation and should decrease or lengthen the time between when we need to actually have a true dental procedure done.

If you have any questions about that or would like to pick any of these items up, feel free to give us a call, 760-633-2254 or visit us on the web at Till next time, I’m Dr. Evans.