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Now begin gently touching gum tissue with your finger and rub along her gums and teeth as if your finger were a toothbrush. Let her get used to sensation. This is exactly way you would introduce a human baby to brushing, beginning with just her gums. Even before there are teeth, there are harmful bacteria. So don't worry about a tiny puppy who doesn't have a full set of teeth yet--rub her gums, swab out her little mouth with your finger, and get her used this kind of contact from her owner.
Your next step is to wrap gauze or a soft washcloth around your finger and rub gums on both outer and inner surfaces of teeth.
Finally, introduce a tooth brush in one small area. As your dog gets used to brush, you will be able to use it in place of gauze or washcloth. Remember to brush inside surfaces!
A little brushing a day, beginning with first step and working your way up gradually, will eventually lead to a one to two minute session. Your dog will learn that it doesn't hurt and that she gets a couple of minutes of your undivided attention every day. It generally takes 8 to 16 weeks to get there, but in end your dog will accept brushing as part of her daily routine.
If a little brushing is done every day at a set time, eventually your pet gets used to it, and some will even look forward to it. It will take most pet owners from 8-16 weeks until pet accepts it readily. Now pet realizes it doesn't hurt and that it will get 1-2 minutes of your undivided attention. Your pet enjoys your attention, and will eventually wait patiently for you to brush his teeth. There's a toothbrush with three heads that will allow you to brush all three surface of tooth at one time, which makes life a lot easier for both of you! It also has nice, soft bristles so you won't harm your pet's delicate gum tissue.
There are also products that can be rubbed on gums and added to drinking water to help reduce bacteria in an animal's mouth and promote dogs health and healing. Bad breath is actually a by-product of bacteria that populate mouth. They break down proteins and carbohydrates from your dog or cat's diet, and produce something called "volatile sulfur compounds", or VSC's. It's sulfur that make breath smell extra special!
Certain dental products have an agent that neutralizes VSC's. Many owners have commented that their cat or dog seems to like drinking water better when these products are added--even though they have no flavor! And there's a gel available that, although formulated for gums, can be very soothing for skin conditions, cuts, and surgical wounds thanks to Aloe Vera it contains.
The best oral care products work without use of fragrances and flavors, which entice human consumers, but don't benefit your cat or dogs health in any way!
I was a practicing dentist for over 20 years, and I saw a lot of human patients who had terrible breath (and periodontal disease) and weren't even aware of it. People don't like to tell each other about bad breath. Even dentist has to be delicate with this piece of bad news.
At least when dealing with a pet, you don't have to worry about social embarrassment in order to address your dogs health problem! Don't be shy, get in there and do something about it. Not only can your dog get rid of her breath odor, but she could even live 2 to 5 years longer as a result. And you'll be able to get close again, without holding your breath.
© Copyright 2004 Carolyn Schweitzer DDS. Dr. Schweitzer was a family dentist for 20 years and is now owner and editor of several websites. You can learn more about specific dental care products by visiting her website at http://www.great-dog-gift.com/dogs_health.html#LocationOXY