Gum disease develops when bacteria and food particles collect along the gum line and form plaque, which in turn forms tartar (calculus), irritating the gums and leading to gingivitis (inflammation of the gum) and periodontal disease.
The end result is not just the notorious “dog breath” suffered by owners of dogs with poor dental care but also abscesses, infections, and loss of teeth and bone. Such oral infections also contribute to heart, liver, and kidney disease. Luckily, they are preventable.
How to Care for the Teeth
In a perfect world, you would brush your dog’s teeth every day to remove the plaque. Realistically, doing so even every few days will prevent most tartar from forming. Don’t use “people toothpaste” on your dog—it’s not made to be swallowed and will upset your dog’s stomach. Ask your vet to recommend a toothpaste made for dogs.
You can apply the toothpaste with a canine toothbrush that is designed to fit the canine mouth, a finger brush (a plastic device that fits onto your finger), or even a piece of surgical gauze wrapped around your finger.
Gently brush or rub your dog’s teeth and gums to begin the cleaning process; enzymes in the toothpaste continue cleaning after you finish. Start slowly, and always make the process pleasant for your dog. If you’re unsure, or if you have trouble brushing your dog’s teeth, ask your vet to demonstrate the proper technique. Make sure that dental checkups are part of your Brittany’s routine veterinary care.