Dental care is an important part of the overall health of your dog and regular tooth cleaning will prevent extensive dental treatment, pain and disease. Cleaning dogs' teeth effectively takes practice, but anyone can accomplish the task with patience. Although your dog's teeth should be examined thoroughly at each veterinary visit, proper home care is required for the long-term health of your dog's teeth and gums. Canine toothbrushes and dental pastes are available at most pet stores, although you can also use inexpensive alternatives with success.

Preparing Your Dog for Teeth Cleaning

If your dog is very energetic and not prone to staying still, it's a good idea to take him for a long walk or bike ride prior to tooth cleaning. This will relax the dog and make him a bit more receptive to the procedure. Over time, your dog will become accustomed to the sensation of having his teeth cleaned and you'll be able to skip this step.

Gather all of your materials and place the animal on a comfortable surface near a bright light. If you're using a commercial dog toothbrush and paste, prepare the materials according to the manufacturer's instructions. If these items are not available, you can use a clean washcloth for scrubbing the teeth and baking soda mixed with water as a cleanser. Your dog may prefer the taste of commercial toothpastes more than baking soda, but it is effective for cleaning dogs' teeth and much less expensive. Simply wrap the washcloth around your index finger and dip it into the baking soda paste as you work.

Cleaning Dogs' Teeth Effectively

Gently roll your dog's lips back to expose the teeth, but don't force his mouth open. Be gentle, especially if this is the animal's first tooth cleaning. Use the toothbrush or washcloth to brush each tooth, moving downward from the gum while rotating the brush or cloth in a tight, circular motion. Brush the inner side of each tooth in the same manner to remove as much plaque and tartar as possible.

For the best results, try to do a little at a time instead of completing the entire job at once. Cleaning dogs' teeth can be tiresome, particularly if you have an energetic dog. If you clean a few teeth at a time, however, and give yourself and your dog a break, the cleaning will likely be much more effective. In this way, your dog will learn that while it isn't the most fun activity in the world, it doesn't hurt and it won't last long.

Tips and Warnings

If your dog shows any sign of aggressiveness towards people, don't attempt to clean his teeth on your own. Instead, seek behavioral counseling to solve the problem and take the animal to the veterinarian for teeth cleaning in the meantime. Never use human toothpaste that contains fluoride for cleaning dogs' teeth. Only use products specifically formulated for canines or baking soda and water to avoid potential complications. Many canine toothpastes have a pleasant flavor that dogs enjoy.