Puppies have two sets of teeth: deciduous (baby) teeth and adult teeth. The baby teeth fall out by the time your puppy is six months of age. Caring for your puppy’s teeth from the beginning can help make the adult teeth last a lifetime.
Helping your puppy get comfortable
It is recommended that you brush your puppy’s teeth, but most dogs won’t just open up and say “ahh” as you come towards them with a toothbrush. Just like bathing and grooming, use a gradual approach.
Start by handling your puppy’s mouth. Lift her lips and stroke her gums with your fingers. This is easier when you approach her from behind, with your puppy in your lap or on the floor between your knees. If she nibbles on your fingers, try making a high-pitched squeal to startle her and stop the behaviour. This will help her to learn not to bite.
Toothbrush and toothpaste
After a few days of practice, you can introduce a toothbrush and a toothpaste made for dogs (toothpaste comes in chicken or beef flavours).
If you have a large puppy, you can use a child’s toothbrush.
There are also toothbrushes made just for dogs that come in different sizes.
Do not use toothpaste made for humans on your puppy’s teeth; it can be harmful if your puppy swallows too much. Dogs tend to dislike mint flavour, anyway.
With a pea-sized amount of toothpaste on the toothbrush, slip the toothbrush under your puppy’s lip on one side. Stroke the outer surfaces of the upper and lower teeth on that side. You don’t need to brush the inner (tongue) side of the teeth. And don’t forget the front teeth!
Brushing your puppy’s teeth every day can make a big difference. But brushing twice per week is better than not brushing your puppy’s teeth at all. If you can’t bring yourself to brush your puppy’s teeth, there are special kibble foods you can give her that help fight plaque. There are also a variety of oral rinses that can help with dental health. – Marti Hopson, DVM