Typically dry foods may provide some cleansing benefit particularly in comparison to moist, sticky foods. However, the dental cleansing is far from optimal. There are dental foods available that effectively reduce plaque and calculus accumulation and gingival inflammation. They are effective, convenient, provide good nutrition, and most pets accept them. uvma carries Prescription Diet T/D manufactured by Hill's Pet Nutrition. Dental diets do not replace the need for professional cleanings and brushing.
Most of the label claims of benefit to pets' teeth with dental treats are unsubstantiated. Be skeptical about purchases. Some of the softer, flat raw hide chips do have some benefits. uvma carries CET Dental Chews that are impregnated with enzymes that are released upon chewing. These enzymes help prevent plaque accumulation. Veterinary dentists recommend avoiding cow hoofs, bones, hard rawhides and other hard objects because these may damage teeth. Nylon or rubber chew toys and Pedigree Dentabones provide some cleaning action. These products may be beneficial, but still do not replace the need for brushing.
Mechanical tooth brushing is the single most effective way to remove the daily accumulation of plaque in your pet's mouth. The general recommendation is daily brushing if the pet will allow it. Although "dry brushing" is generally adequate, there are a number of pastes and gels available that makes the job easier because they come in flavors that most pets find appealing. Poultry, beef and tuna are common flavors. Avoid using human toothpastes as pets tend to swallow the products and flouride can be toxic in large amounts. What product you use and how often you need to brush depends upon the condition of your pet's teeth and your degree of committment to your pet's dental health. The more frequently you brush, the better the benefits for your pet. Generally brushing the "outside" part of the teent is adequate. Use a soft brush, gauze, finger, sponge, or cotton tipped applicators. uvma carries regular brushes, finger brushes, and toothpastes.
Training your pet to accept oral hygiene is best started at a young age. Handling the mouth, introducing a brushing device and application of oral hygiene products should be a routine part of puppy and kitten training. Adult animals may be more difficult to train; however, with consistent behavior modification and positive reinforcement, most pets will learn to tolerate oral manipulations and application of oral hygiene. Training your pet to accept brushing versus jumping right in is much safer for you and your pet! The training should begin with the animal and owner in a relaxed and comfortable atmosphere. Begin with simply handling your pet's head and mouth, stroking and lifting the lips. Try to insert your fingers in the mouth for longer and longer periods of time. Make the experience positive and enjoyable ty using praise and other types of rewards for desired behavior. Use flavored pastes, bouillon flavored water, garlic salt or tuna water for cats to begin with. Be patient and gentle and soon your pet will accept thorough brushing on a daily basis.
Just like people, puppies and kittens lose their "baby" or deciduous teeth which are then replaced with permanent teeth. In some cases, the baby teeth don't fall out as they should. This can cause a problem with proper alignment of permanent. Also, retained baby teeth can lead to accumulation of plaque and tartar. uvma recommends extraction of any retained deciduous teeth.