Proper dental hygiene for your dog is an important part of his overall health and well-being. It is good to have a basic understanding of normal tooth development in dogs so you can care for your dogs teeth the best way.
Puppies are born without any teeth. Most of the dog’s permanent teeth come in around 6 months of age. By the time all of the dog’s adult teeth have come in, he will have a full set of 42 teeth.
The 12 small teeth in the front of the dog’s mouth are incisors. There are also four long, pointed teeth near the front of the mouth called cuspids or canine teeth. Infections in the gums and broken teeth are common problems, as well as irritation of the tissue in your dog’s mouth. Tooth decay is not a common problem with dogs. A dog’s chewing reflexes also helps to keep his teeth somewhat clean and prevent tooth decay.
Aside from visiting your vet on a regular basis for canine dental checkups, a veterinarian can also clean and polish your dog’s teeth. You can also keep you dog’s teeth clean at home in between your dental checkups. A finger toothbrush designed for dogs is a great way to start brushing your dog’s teeth. Using the soft bristles on the side of the finger brush, you can clean and massage your dog’s teeth and gums.
Once your dog has become comfortable with the finger brush, you can start using a standard dog toothbrush to clean his teeth. The toys your dog plays with and the things he eats are also an important part of your dog’s dental hygiene. Some toys and foods are actually good for your dog’s teeth and mouth, like rawhide bones and specially designed rubber, plastic, and fiber toys made for dogs. Animal bones and toys that are not designed for dogs can be too hard for your dog’s teeth and cause damage, or may break into small fragments that may choke your dog.
Tips for Proper Dental Hygiene for Your Dog
Start putting your fingers in your dog’s mouth when he is still a puppy so he will be comfortable having his teeth cleaned. Place a small amount of flavored dog toothpaste on your fingertip to encourage your dog. You can even train an older dog to allow teeth cleaning this way. Use an appropriately sized toothbrush for your dog. Continue to use a flavored toothpaste and gently brush your dog’s teeth. Only use dog toothpaste. Try dipping an old toothbrush in a saltwater solution and letting your dog chew it.