February Focus on Pets and Children's Oral Health

Thursday, February 10th, 2011, 1:35 pm

I knew that February was National Children’s Dental Health Month but I learned that another member of your family is also getting special recognition for their healthy teeth this month – the family pet. It turns out it is also National Pet Dental Month according to the American Veterinary Medical Society.

Actually, keeping all the mouths in your household clean and healthy is a smart thing to do – it helps avoid treatments for cavities or gum disease in the future. Surprisingly, many of the strategies we can use to help our children maintain good oral health will work for our pets as well.

Many people don’t think about caring for their infant’s teeth but it is very important. You should clean your baby’s mouth and gums regularly with a soft infant toothbrush or a cloth and water. A baby or toddler  should never be put down to sleep with a bottle containing milk or juice and they should be weaned from the bottle by 12-14 months of age. Once those baby teeth come in they should be brushed at least twice a day using a soft child sized brush and a small amount of toothpaste.

As your child gets older keep up the brushing routine. Teach your child to avoid soft drinks and unhealthy, sugary snacks in favor of fresh fruits, vegetables and milk or water to drink. Allow only sugarless gum. Teach your child to floss each night and make sure that they see the dentist twice a year. If orthodontic treatment is needed for your child it is best to spot the problems early.

Our four legged friends need a little more of our help in keeping their teeth and gums healthy. Brush your pets teeth each day with a special pet-friendly toothbrush and toothpaste (they tend to swallow the toothpaste so a special one made for pets is better) or wipe their teeth and gums with gauze and water. Don’t give sweet, sticky treats to your pets and make sure they have plenty of opportunities to chew (rawhides, crunchy dog and cat treats). Wet pet food can tend to stick to teeth so stick with dry kibble or feed both. Make sure your veterinarian checks the health of teeth and gums at each visit.

While we can’t help you with keeping Fido and Fluffy’s teeth healthy we would love to help you keep the rest of your family smiling in February and beyond. Please contact Wilbank’s Smile Center at 706-886-9439 today to schedule your appointment. Conveniently located in Toccoa, Georgia.

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