We added an inexpensive, but necessary item to our inventory this week - the dog toothbrush.
Brushing your dog's teeth is considered the most reliable way to remove plaque and prevent the buildup of tartar. I know, it's enough trouble to have to brush and floss your own teeth regularly, without taking on an unwilling patient. Vets recommend daily brushing, though, and the cost of a professional dental cleaning, extractions, and the threat of health problems ensuing from tooth problems motivates me to try to keep up on my own dogs' dental hygiene.
These brushes have two ends, one small and the other large, for dogs of all sizes. Also, the small bunch of bristles is just right for the front teeth, while the wider bunch of bristles does a good job on the sides of the molars toward the back of the dog's mouth.
Human toothpaste is not okay for dogs. There are dog toothpastes on the market, which can make the brushing more tasty for your dog. (My dogs prefer poultry flavor.) Although dogs can get tooth decay like people do, it is not common unless you feed sugary, people treats. The main concern is a buildup of plaque, which can create tartar and lead to gum disease. Older dogs can suffer a lot of health problems due to neglected teeth, so a preventive effort with teeth is very important.
My strategy is to work fast and praise the dogs profusely, then follow with a crunchy treat. Like nail trimming, start with small, incremental steps and work quickly. Keep your dog comfortable and make this grooming routine upbeat and positive.
Here is a great article from the ASPCA that explains how to introduce your dog to tooth brushing.
Dogs don't worry about having a dazzling smile, but they do value their teeth for function. Help them keep those chompers healthy with a new toothbrush and a little daily brushing.