How To Keep My Puppy’s Teeth Healthy

One of my biggest pet peeves about pet parents is when they don’t take good care of their puppy’s teeth. The fact is, just like humans, puppies and dogs can get cavities, tooth damage, and periodontal disease.

Yes, there are plenty of products on the market that you can give your puppy to chew on and help keep their teeth relatively clean and healthy.  

Still, these products are no substitute for proper puppy dental hygiene, especially after their adult teeth come in.

I was reminded of this the other day when I had the opportunity to meet my neighbor’s 10-month-old Cocker Spaniel. She was a beautiful dog, but as I got close to her pretty face, the strong (i.e., foul) odor was a dead giveaway that something was wrong with her teeth.

I asked my neighbor (who will remain nameless) when the last time was they had brushed her teeth. Unfortunately, they said “never,” which is an answer I hear frequently.

Luckily, my neighbor then asked a question that gave me hope: “How to keep my puppy’s teeth healthy?”

The answer is that there are several ways to keep your puppy’s teeth healthy. Brushing your puppy’s teeth regularly and using dog tooth wipes that can help remove plaque is a great start.

Giving your dog dental treats and dog chews, as I mentioned above, is a great idea as well. Lastly, having your puppy’s teeth professionally cleaned by a veterinarian is also a great way to keep them fit.

Now that you know how to keep your puppy’s teeth healthy, I’m sure you have other questions about this essential task. For example, is it normal for puppies to have rotten teeth, and how do you clean a puppy’s teeth?

For the answers to those questions and several more, please keep reading. I’ve got them for you below and some essential advice to ensure your puppy has perfect teeth and takes those teeth into adulthood. 

What Can I Give My Dog for Healthy Teeth?

There are a lot of products you can purchase for your puppy that will help maintain their teeth between dental checkups. For example, there are different chew toys and treats that you can give your puppy that remove plaque and tartar from their teeth.

Treats specifically made to freshen your dog’s breath and keep their mouth clean can be found at any big box pet supply store. They come in various sizes, shapes, and flavors. 

KONG pet toys and edible nylabones are excellent. Not only will they help keep your puppies’ teeth clean and healthy, but they also give them something to do to prevent boredom and destructive behavior.

You can give your puppy several different foods to keep their teeth healthy and clean. Carrots, apples, and, surprisingly, pumpkins are all excellent choices. Most puppies love them, and they have antioxidants that can prevent periodontitis.

Another surprising food you can give your puppy to protect their teeth is yogurt or kefir. Both contain probiotics that can destroy harmful bacteria in your puppy’s mouth. You can give them a spoonful (unsweetened) or even apply some to their gums directly with your finger.

Should I Brush My Dog’s Teeth?

Yes, you should definitely brush your dog and/or puppy’s teeth. Like humans, brushing your puppy’s teeth will prevent tooth decay and periodontitis. It will also keep their breath fresh and clean, prevent gum disease and ensure that their teeth don’t get cavities.

How Do You Clean a Puppy’s Teeth?

Besides giving your puppy something to chew on that keeps their teeth clean, the best way to clean them is to brush them as you would brush your own.

While some dog experts recommend brushing your puppy’s teeth once a day, if you can brush them twice a week, that should be just fine. In between, giving them dog chews specifically made to clean their teeth, as I mentioned above, will be very helpful. The same goes for healthy, chewable foods like carrots.

You’ll need a toothbrush and toothpaste to brush your puppy’s teeth.  A child-size toothbrush works fine, although toothbrushes made to fit on your finger also work well.

Human toothpaste isn’t suitable for puppies, so you’ll need to buy toothpaste specifically made just for dogs and pups. You can find both at your local pet store or purchase them online.

I suggest starting slowly when brushing your puppy’s teeth as it’s something that they won’t understand at first. Using your finger with a small amount of dog toothpaste at first is a great idea. This method will get them used to the feeling of something being put into their mouth and on their teeth.

Once your puppy is used to your finger and understands more or less what’s going on, you can start using a toothbrush. Make sure to brush all of your pup’s teeth front and back, including the teeth furthest back in their mouth.

What Happens if I Never Brush my Dog’s Teeth?

Many things can happen if you never brush your dog’s teeth, all of them bad. First, plaque deposits can build up on their teeth,  the precursor to cavities.

In time, your puppy’s gums will start to be affected and will often start to bleed when they chew on something. Also, they will become quite sensitive, especially the root of the tooth, which can become exposed and cause them a lot of pain.

In time, their teeth will start to discolor, the roots will die, and the tooth or teeth will fall out. At that point, your puppy or dog will probably be in all sorts of pain.

Also, at this point, the smell emanating from your puppy or dog’s mouth will be pretty nasty. If it gets to the point where your pup refuses to eat, your only choice is to bring them to the veterinarian and get professional help.

Is it Normal for Puppies to Have Rotten Teeth?

Like a human child, your puppy’s teeth will fall out eventually and be replaced by adult teeth. As for rotten teeth, no, it is not normal for a puppy to have rotten teeth. If they do, either they have been eating a very poor diet or have had little dental care during their short life. (Or both.)

Think about it this way; would it be normal for a young child to have rotten teeth? That answer, of course, is no, unless that child’s parents have been feeding them nothing but sugary sweets their entire life and never taken them to the dentist. 

However, some pet parents mistake normal conditions for rotten teeth, and so it helps to know about those conditions. 

There are two of them, and the first is black gums. While black gums might look abnormal or “bad,” they’re actually normal and found in several breeds like Shar-Peis, Black-mouth Curs, and Chows.

If your puppy has black gums but doesn’t have bad breath, their gums aren’t bleeding, and there is very little plaque buildup, everything is normal.

The second condition that can appear to be rotten teeth is so-called “snaggle teeth. This situation is when a tooth (or teeth) protrudes at an abnormal angle. If that’s the only condition and there’s no plaque, bad breath, or other rotten tooth signs, everything is probably just fine.

Final Thoughts 

I can’t stress enough how important it is to regularly brush your puppy’s teeth and give them different products and foods that keep them clean and healthy.

Brushing your puppy’s teeth is one of the best ways to ensure that they stay clean and healthy. It’s also a great way to bond with your puppy and will prevent serious (and seriously expensive) dental problems down the road. 

I hope today’s blog on how to keep your puppy’s teeth healthy has been informative and helpful. If you have more questions on keeping your puppy’s teeth healthy or pet parenting in general, please see my other blogs. I do my very best to stuff them full of helpful, informative, and real-world information. 

Until next time, enjoy your time as a puppy parent! Trust me, they will be an adult dog before you know it, so take advantage of these first weeks and months as much as you can!