Oral Care: The Hidden Danger
No really. It's more than just bad breath.
Wait! We know what you’re thinking. “Oral care. How exciting can this be?”
And fair enough – it’s probably not going to be the most riveting read of the year. But before you click back, hear us out: dental hygiene is the most under-appreciated aspect of pet care.
Us humans have a natural ambivalence about oral care; it exists as a chore, and we do it only because we have to. If it weren’t for commercials reminding us cavities and bad breath exist, we reckon we wouldn’t even think about it! But alas we have to, so we’ll give it to you straight.
Bad news: We’ll get to experience first-hand how our dentists feel when their patients don’t know what’s good for them. Our companion’s mouths are definitely not a clean place and accounts for the most common complications in adult cats and dogs. Definitely not something to take lightly!
Good news: It’s easy to prevent! (No, really!) Read on, and we promise you’ll never take your dentists for granted again.
Start ‘em Young
Easier said than done!’ – we hear you groan. And frankly? You wouldn’t be wrong. Dental hygiene is such a foreign concept to virtually everyone but us; we couldn’t really blame our pets for being less than understanding.
Starting early is crucial to getting them used to the idea, but it's also important to use positive reinforcement. In the same way that some of us grew up disliking visits to the dentist, our experiences are shaped by our perceptions of the time – which is exactly the same for our furry friends.
While starting young is key, it’s still never too late! Ask our resident 12-year-old Schnauzer! She started out very late, and while she never fails to give us the stink-eye, she’s more-or-less come to terms with it and begrudgingly accepts it.
Knowing how sassy our girl can be – we’ll take it!
More Than Just Brushing
Better news: proper dental hygiene doesn’t always require a toothbrush!
There are plenty of other ways to keep your companion’s teeth healthy. Selecting specific toys, and oral care gels go a long way to maintaining those pearly whites. And if that isn’t enough, you might just be able to trick them with dental treats! Nothing’s better than duping them into thinking they’re getting rewarded, when in fact, we’re just taking them along for a ride! *Queue evil laughter*
On a related note, it also helps to watch out for what they eat and put in their mouth. While our furry friends might adore our furniture (for how can one resist the forbidden fruit?), it isn’t exactly great for their teeth or their digestive system!
How I Stopped Worrying and Learnt to Love The Dentist
Alright, so you’ve made it this far – congrats! Now you’re probably wondering how to actually do it.
You’ll have to start sloow. Don’t just come onto your canine/feline friend with a bristled stick on one hand and holding them down with the other!
Instead, warm them up to the idea of first just touching their mouths to see how comfortable they are with it. If they show no hesitation, reward them immediately with a treat. Then, slowly work your way up to feeling their teeth, then their gums, eventually sneaking in some toothpaste on cotton swabs, and later on, a toothbrush. If you sense hesitation, just end the session and try again later.
It can be a tedious process depending on their personalities, and may take a while for them to fully warm up to your seemingly newfound obsession with their oral cavities. As with most things, gentle persistence (and gratuitous bribes) is key to success.
When it comes down to it, we’re just like our pets – we’re both naturally ambivalent of any foreign objects entering our mouths! But unlike our companions, we’re aware of just how important dentists are, even if we may not be their biggest fans.
All it boils down to is starting slow, building that trust, and using positive reinforcement – the same way you would do to a child, really! And patience. Gotta have plenty of those in stock too.
Now to schedule an appointment with our own dentists…