Don’t forget the teeth!

About 3 years ago my wife and I had the pleasure of attending a seminar presented by Dr. Helen M. Evans, DVM. who specializes in veterinary dentistry. We learned so much from her presentation, and I’d like to share a few very helpful tips that Dr Evans gave us about how to care for our dog’s teeth.

  1. Brushing is the Gold Standard when it comes to home dental care. Just like our own teeth, preventive care is the best option. Brushing your dog’s teeth removes plaque, and prevents plaque from turning into tartar. Tartar is mineralized plaque, like cement on the teeth. Once tartar is on the teeth brushing is not as effective.
  2. The mechanical act of brushing is more important than the toothpaste! This is something that I needed to know. I’ve been telling my clients that you don’t have to brush as long as you get the toothpaste in the dog’s mouth – or on the teeth. I thought the enzymes in the toothpaste did the cleaning, but that is not true. It is the act of brushing that breaks up the plaque and removes the buildup, not the toothpaste.
  3. Consistency is the key. Make sure to get the back teeth as well by lifting the cheek up to expose all the teeth. Only brush the outside surfaces near the cheeks – you don’t have to brush the inside of the teeth. It’s best to brush 3 times a day, but we should try to brush them at least once a day.

Water Additives are good, but it doesn’t penetrate the plaque (biofilm). It’s like using mouthwash but not brushing our teeth and expecting our teeth to be clean. It’s best when used along with brushing. Oral rinses that are prescribed by the vet can help, and are best used after the dog eats because chewing the food helps break up plaque. Dental chews are a good alternative if your dog will not tolerate brushing. It takes advantage of the dog’s natural desire to gnaw on things. This way the natural cleaning mechanisms of the saliva and shearing action helps break up the plaque on the teeth.

Dr Evans also gave us a few suggestions for safe chew toys/treats:

Safe Toys/Chews: Traditional Rawhide* (Good Lovin” Traditional Compressed Rawhide Bone Dog Chew, 9-inch, 3.2 OZ by Good Lovin’: $7.99 –, Granulated Rawhide, Rope Toys*, Greenies (Greenies Original TEENIE Dental Dog Treats, 12 oz. Pack (43 Treats) by Greenies – $15.99: Original Regular Size Dog Dental Chews – 36 Ounces 36 Treats by Greenies – $33.99: other consumable dental chews, Rubber Toys (KONG Classic Dog Toy, Large, Red by KONG: $12.99 –, Plush Toys*.    *always supervise when using these products. They can be a choking hazard if your dog tries to eat pieces of the toy/rawhide.

Here is a quick video demonstration with an adorable Maltese that I groom named Lily:

One thought on “Don’t forget the teeth!

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