How often should you brush your dog’s teeth?

Everyone should brush their dog’s teeth every day. It even helps with bad breath in dogs! If you need a little more motivation, brushing your teeth regularly can save you tons (huge!) of money down the road by avoiding expensive, painful dental surgeries and tooth extractions. Although statistics prove that daily brushing has the greatest impact, as the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC) recommends, any brushing is better than no brushing at all. If you can only do it once a week, it will still help your dog.

Brushing your dog’s teeth regularly can help avoid tooth loss, heart disease, diabetes and sinus problems that are caused at least in part by poor dental care. Just like us, dogs can develop periodontal disease due to neglect of their teeth. Periodontal disease painfully destroys the bone and gums that hold your teeth in place. Dogs with toothache cannot eat well at all.

Toothbrush selection

It’s best to choose a toothbrush designed specifically for dogs, but many people have success using a children’s toothbrush for small dogs and an adult toothbrush (soft bristles only) for larger dogs. Pay attention to the size of the brush you choose. A brush that is too large will be uncomfortable for a small dog, while a small brush will be ineffective for larger dogs. Be sure to clean your brush and let it dry completely between brushings, just like you would clean a brush yourself. Note: The finger brush is really not easy to use.

dental chewable tablets

The list of VOHC-approved products includes some dental chews.While some may scoff at the effectiveness of chewing your teeth, a study published in the journal Science Journal of Veterinary Dentistry Disagree: “Adding dental chews to the diet can significantly reduce the accumulation of plaque and tartar as well as oral malodor while improving gum index.” In other words, chewing on your teeth helps.

Use dog toothpaste

Toothpaste made for dogs contains enzymes that help eliminate bacteria in your dog’s mouth. Bacteria contribute to the formation of plaque, which hardens into sticky, damaging tartar. The enzymes in toothpaste are very powerful. For some dogs who absolutely won’t allow a toothbrush in their mouth, if you can rub toothpaste on their gums, it can at least help. Again, once a day is best.

Usually toothpaste is flavored, which most dogs like. (Human toothpaste is meant to be spitted out, not swallowed; never use human toothpaste on your dog.) Try to choose products that are VOHC accepted, as this means there is evidence that the products work.

science and technology

Start slowly and be patient. Let your dog lick the enzyme toothpaste off the brush – if that’s all you can do, then that’s fine to start with. If you can get the brush into your dog’s mouth, brush only a few of your dog’s teeth. Don’t fight him. Be gentle. Reward your dog generously and often with treats and praise. For a complete lesson on technique, watch this video from the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine.

Finally, when brushing your dog’s teeth, pay special attention to the outer surfaces of the upper teeth and the side of the cheek, where large amounts of tartar can accumulate. “Plaque and tartar accumulate most quickly on the buccal (cheek) surfaces of the upper teeth,” says VOHC.