10 Tips for Dental Health in Dogs (cont.)

6. Brightening the Pearly Whites

Taking these steps will make brushing a lot easier for the both of you:

  • First get your dog used to the idea of having her teeth brushed. Massage her lips with your finger in a circular motion for 30 to 60 seconds once or twice a day for a few weeks. Then move on to her teeth and gums.
  • When your pooch seems comfortable being touched this way, put a little bit of dog-formulated toothpaste or a paste of baking soda and water on her lips to get her used to the taste.
  • Next, introduce a toothbrush designed especially for dogs-it should be smaller than a human toothbrush and have softer bristles. Toothbrushes that you can wear over your finger (or a clean piece of gauze) are also available and allow you to give a nice massage to your dog's gums.
  • Finally, apply the toothpaste to her teeth for a gentle brushing, as in step 7.
  • A veterinary exam beforehand may be helpful to find out if your dog's gums are inflamed. If your dog has mild gingivitis, brushing too hard can hurt her gums.

7. Brushing Technique

Yes, there is actually a technique! Place the brush or your gauze-wrapped finger at a 45-degree angle to the teeth and clean in small, circular motions. Work on one area of your dog's mouth at a time, lifting her lip as necessary. The side of the tooth that touches the cheek usually has the most tartar, and giving a final downward stroke can help to remove it. If your dog resists having the inner surfaces of her teeth cleaned, don't fight it-only a small amount of tartar accumulates there. Once you get the technique down, go for a brushing two or three times a week.