Brushing Puppy Teeth Step by Step

Brushing puppy teeth is an important step in developing a dental hygiene program for your dog. Owners must be consistent when cleaning teeth and gums to maintain and improve your puppy's dental care. Between the age of 8 and 16 weeks is a great time to start brushing puppy teeth so they become comfortable with cleaning and develop healthy teeth and gums early.
  1. The first thing you will need to care for your puppy's teeth is the right toothpaste. Human toothpaste can make dogs sick and should never be used. Buy toothpaste made for dogs and put a small amount on your finger. Allow your puppy to smell and lick the toothpaste, which usually comes in meat flavors.
  2. Puppies can be squirmy so have someone restrain the dog on a table or flat surface while you clean his teeth. Lay the dog on his stomach or side while holding his collar or harness, or try lifting and holding his rear leg and collar while he is standing so he can't move around.
  3. Gently move your finger around his gums and teeth with no toothpaste. Do this for a short amount of time and give your puppy a treat for behaving. Gradually you will lengthen the time you perform this exercise. Add toothpaste the next time you try and clean his mouth. If you have a dog toothbrush, show your puppy the brush and let him see it and lick it.
  4. If your puppy nips at your finger, make a loud shriek to discourage biting.
  5. Once your puppy is comfortable with your finger in his mouth, you can start brushing or continue to use your fingers. Start with the top teeth at the back of the mouth. Lift his lip to see where you are brushing and use circular motions along the gum line and front of the teeth. The inside of the teeth are less important to clean.
  6. Gradually move the brush or your finger around to the front teeth and then again towards the back of the mouth on the other side. Look for any inflammation, cuts, damaged teeth or tartar buildup. Pay close attention to the back teeth where the most buildup and dental problems can be found.
  7. Give your dog a special treat and praise him after brushing his teeth.
  8. Brush your puppy's teeth every day, making sure not to go on for too long of a time. Prolonged teeth cleaning sessions will bore your dog and will make him less willing to cooperate when it's time to brush his teeth again.

Finger combs or brushes are a great for brushing, especially after performing the initial practice cleaning sessions. The combs slide over your finger and allow you to get around your dog's mouth easily and safely. Dog toothbrushes are also available and come in all sizes and shapes to suit your breed and size of dog. Infant or children's toothbrushes can also be used for puppies and dogs with small mouths. The bristles should be soft so make sure to change your dog's toothbrush often as it gets worn down and rough.