How to Keep Your Dog’s Teeth And Mouth Healthy?
a dog's teeth are vital to their overall health

A dog’s teeth are sadly one of the most neglected part of their care and well-being. Like humans, dogs can develop dental problems such as plaque, gingivitis, and periodontitis if their oral health is neglected. And this can contribute to other problems like diabetes, heart, and respiratory problems. It is better to take preventative measures in your dog’s oral health rather than deal with major health problems stemming from an unhealthy mouth.

Why Brush Your Dog’s Teeth?

Brushing a dog’s teeth is part of a good overall hygiene regime
Brushing a dog’s teeth is part of a good overall hygiene regime

You should brush your dog’s teeth because poor oral hygiene can cause fatal health conditions such as liver, kidney, and heart muscle damage. These life-threatening conditions are extremely expensive to treat, and you will be better off keeping up with your dog’s regular oral hygiene practices.

The American Veterinary Medical Association holds that approximately 80% of all dogs exhibit signs of canine periodontal disease by the time they are 3 years old. Small dog breeds and senior canines are especially prone to oral issues and will need their teeth cleaned more often.

Brushing your dog’s mouth is of crucial because untreated dental diseases can cause tooth loss and painful abscesses to your beloved pet dog. Long-term periodontal disease, prevalent among dogs, is linked to permanent jaw damage and heart disease, both of which are severe health conditions.

Small dog breeds such as Yorkshire Terriers need extra dental care because their teeth are overcrowded, they live longer than larger breeds, and are more likely eating wet food.

You can read more about the importance of of dental healthy with this article. You can also learn more about what to feed your small breed dog here.

What do a healthy dog’s teeth look like?

an unhealthy canine mouth
This dog’s teeth shows an unhealthy level of plaque and tartar build up

You are probably wondering what a healthy dog mouth looks like. When you peek into your dog’s mouth, you can spot developing dental problems. A healthy dog’s gums look pink or mottled. Red gums indicate inflammation.

If your dog’s gums look pale pink, purple, white, blue, or any out-of-the-ordinary color, contact your vet as soon as possible, as this may indicate underlying health conditions. Healthy dog mouths will also not have broken teeth, a particularly pungent smell, or too much plaque build-up along the gum line.

With this in mind, to ensure that your dog lives a long and happy life, develop a proper oral care routine for your dog. So how do you clean your dog’s teeth with a toothbrush?

How to Clean A Dogs’ Teeth With a Toothbrush

Brushing your dog’s teeth may sound silly to non-owners or even to first-time dog owners, but it is an essential oral hygiene practice. Most dogs need some getting used to brushing, but this needs simple training just like nail trimming does.

To get your dog used to have his teeth brushed, start by placing your finger on the teeth until he gets used to having foreign objects in his mouth. Once you determine that he is comfortable, use a dog toothbrush. Don’t corner your dog during brushing, as this will make him fearful of the process.

You should always use dog-specific toothpaste to brush your dog’s teeth. Human toothpaste contains harmful ingredients such as baking soda and fluoride, which could negatively affect your dog. On top of that, dog toothpaste comes in flavors like peanut butter, beef, and chicken which is appealing to dogs.

When it is time to start brushing, place the toothbrush at a 45- degree angle to the gum line. This angle is more effective in clearing plaque away than placing the brush flat against the teeth. Circular motions should be used on the bottom and top teeth. End the session with treats and praise.

Try to brush your dog’s teeth every few days or at least once a week. Small breeds and senior canines should have their teeth brushed more often. Brushing is an effective oral hygiene practice because it gets rid of most of the plaque before it turns into tartar, which takes 24 to 48 hours.

How to Clean Dogs’ Teeth Naturally

There are several natural options to help clean your dog’s teeth. Studies have shown good results with the following natural remedies:

  • large meaty bones mechanically remove plaque through mastication; up to 70% of tartar build up is removed after 12 days of chewing on hard, large cow bones.
  • Brown kelp (specifically rockweed) in the diet slows the build up of plaque and calculus.
  • L. salivarius or Lactobacillus Salivarius is a probiotic that promotes good bacteria in the mouth.
  • Pomegranate extract in treats also promotes a healthy canine mouth.

A possible natural option is coconut oil. This oil is theorized to contain organic materials that kill harmful bacteria in the mouth. This is because coconut oil contains the fatty acid, lauric acid.

Lauric acid is a natural provider of antibacterial protection that can inhibit bad bacteria from forming and reverse the growth of existing ones. Therefore, coconut oil may be effective prevention against gingivitis when rubbed on your dog’s teeth because of its inherent antibacterial properties.

Cinnamon is yet another effective natural remedy for oral conditions. This tasty additive is full of antioxidants and has antibacterial properties. To use it, pour half a teaspoon or less into your dog’s food. Be careful with the amount; too much cinnamon could lead to liver damage. Avoid it for pregnant dogs.

Other ingredients that may help dogs’ teeth

A good diet is essential for your dog’s oral health. Healthy foods like apple slices make a tasty treat and help keep your dog’s teeth clean and their breath fresh. A healthy diet is key in maintaining good oral hygiene because unhealthy foods cause an overgrowth of harmful bacteria in a dog’s mouth.

5 Tips to Maintain Great Dog Dental Health

There are several other fun ways for both you and your dog to ensure that proper oral health is maintained. The tips below will help you set up a good tooth cleaning routine to keep your dog’s teeth clean.

1. Keep Up With Brushing your dog’s teeth

Brushing a canine’s teeth is remarkably simple, even if you are a very busy person. The ease of brushing depends on how receptive a dog is to the process. A trained dog tolerates having his teeth brushed well and may even learn to enjoy it if treats and praise follow brushing.

A dog should be brushed a couple of days in the week. If you can’t keep up with this frequency, brushing once a week will suffice, although the more, the better. Small dog breeds should have their teeth more often than one day a week as they are prone to dental issues like periodontitis.

Slight bleeding is normal, and to avoid it, try being more gentle with brushing the next time. Excessive bleeding is a warning sign of canine periodontal disease, and you should consult your vet as soon as possible.

2. Provide Dental Chews

Dental chews are designed to minimize plaque and tartar buildup, and chewing them is fun for your dog. They come in different sizes and shapes to accommodate small and large dogs. They have ridges that dig into crevices between the dog’s teeth, encouraging blood flow through the gums.

Larger diameter treats with a polyphosphate coating are particularly effective in removing plaque buildup. The Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHL) approves products able to remove plaque by 10 to 20%. You could opt to look for dental chews with this stamp.

Soft dental sticks are safer and more effective than animal bones and nylabones which could cause fractured teeth. Be careful when choosing dental chews because some could lead to pierced gums and even intestinal obstructions when splinters are ingested.

3. Provide Dental Chew toys

Try dental chew toys if you are watching your dog’s weight and have to cut down the calories in dental chews. Another benefit to this oral hygiene practice is that these toys keep your dog distracted. Instead of nibbling on your shoes out of boredom, he chews on the dentally healthy toys.

Puppies benefit from chewing on dental chews because they get relief from teething pain while receiving dental benefits from them. Adult dogs are kept mentally stimulated when they chew on these toys. This is because the instinct to chew is well attended to by the chew toys.

Dental chews toys are made up of a variety of materials such as plastic, rawhide, rubber, and nylon. They are available in different sizes and shapes; just find out which one is your dog’s favorite. You can resolve a dog’s natural playfulness and watch out for their oral health simultaneously with chew toys.

You must note that dental chews and toys are not substitutes for brushing your dog’s teeth. They don’t reach in between teeth and beneath the gums. Dental toys and chews complement other proper oral care practices.

4. Feed a Proper Diet

A healthy diet is essential for good oral hygiene. If your canine companion consumes too much processed and sweetened food and you forgo brushing the teeth, the dog’s teeth will suffer for it. Adding a dental chew along with a proper diet will do wonders for your dog’s oral health.

If you feed your dog a raw, fresh diet, ensure that you brush their teeth often, as softer food is less abrasive against dental calculus. Still, the less processed the food is, the less inflammatory it is. This helps prevent inflammation in the gums and gum disease.

5. Consider Professional Dental Cleaning

You have been consistent in maintaining your dog’s good oral health. So does your dog still need professional veterinarian cleaning? Yes, a dental vet cleaning session is essential in protecting your dog’s oral health. Vets can identify any oral issue that would have otherwise gone unnoticed.

Most of the time, oral exams and professional checkups are needed every year for optimum oral health. Some breeds such as Dachshunds, Bulldogs, and Yorkshire Terriers are more susceptible to oral problems. This means that they would need professional cleaning and checkups twice a year.

Vets can remove plaque and tartar buildup below the gum line unreachable to toothbrushes. They can also safely extract damaged teeth that cause unnecessary pain and discomfort to your dog. If you have been consistent with quality dental care at home, the vet will simply polish your dog’s teeth.

In case of any unusual symptoms such as swollen and bleeding gums, or broken teeth, take your dog to the vet even if the next dental checkup is not due. Although vet visits are the most expensive and time-demanding form of oral care, they’re extremely vital in healthy teeth.

What Are the Best Dental Dog Treats in the Market For Dog’s Teeth?

Dental treats work in a similar mechanism as that of a toothbrush. As your dog chews on the treats, plaque is scraped off from the dog’s teeth. Supervise your dog as he takes these because chews and dental treats are choking hazards. You can find the best selection of doggy chews on the Pet Assistant Marketplace. Some great choices include:

A good dental dog treat is highly digestible and low in fat. Some treats such as Greenies Original Dental Dog Treats have added vitamins and minerals for greater nutritional value. Greenies are also low in fat which is a quality of a good dental dog treat.

Treats that have the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC) seal, such as Milk-Bone Brushing Chews, are good for your pet dog’s teeth. These chews also contain 16 essential amino acids making them nutritionally beneficial to your dog.

Blue Buffalo Dental Chews for Dogs features a blend of natural ingredients. These chews also contain glucosamine and chondroitin for improving joint health, particularly helpful for senior dogs. Owners have reported that their picky dogs choose this treat, probably due to the rich meaty aroma.

Remember to moderate the number of dental treats that you feed your dog. You don’t want to swap dental issues with weight problems. The carbohydrates found in most of the ingredients of most commercially manufactured chews offer little nutritional benefit to your dog.

These carbohydrates are also broken down into sugars that fuel plaque and tartar buildup, which is counterproductive because these treats should clean teeth. You can opt to give your dog more natural treats, such as apple slices. These are less processed and will leave your dog’s breath smelling fresh.


Oral hygiene is important to your dog’s overall health, and it can’t be neglected. Although brushing your dog’s teeth is the best oral hygiene practice, you use dog dental chews and toys on top of brushing. Professional dental care and cleaning are essential to your dog’s oral health and should be done yearly.

Dental careDog dental careDog's teeth