Most adult dogs have 42 teeth, though our genetic manipulation of the species has resulted in dogs with fewer or more.

Most adult dogs have six incisors (front teeth) on the top jaw and six on the bottom; two canine teeth (the largest “fangs”) on the top and two on the bottom; eight premolars on the top and eight on the bottom; and two molars on the top and three molars on the bottom.

Your dog’s teeth have a lot of work to do. Dogs use their mouths for more than just eating; they use them to play, explore and taste a lot of their surroundings too. So if your dog’s teeth aren’t properly cared for, it can start to cause problems.

If dog’s teeth are not regularly cleaned, the plaque will build up and turn into tartar. This can lead to inflammation and tenderness which can also go on to cause gingivitis and gum disease.

How to keep your dog’s teeth clean

Prevention is better than cure. You can start by brushing your dog’s teeth daily with a special dog toothbrush and toothpaste (don’t use human toothpaste as this contains chemicals that can be toxic to dogs).

Introduce the toothpaste on your finger, allowing your dog to lick it off. After your dog has shown that they enjoy the toothpaste, start to run your finger along the inside of their mouth, following the gum line

If your dog is comfortable allowing you to do this then, after a few days, you can introduce the toothbrush, allowing your dog to lick the toothbrush with the dog toothpaste on (don’t put the toothbrush in their mouth just yet!)

Okay, so they’re now comfortable with licking the toothbrush? It’s time to start brushing those teeth. Start gently; targeting the front teeth first you should make gentle round motions, stopping regularly to allow them to lick the toothbrush (so they’re continuously rewarded).

Once your dog is happy to let you brush their front teeth and their canines, you can move onto the back teeth, repeating the stopping and starting process. After a couple of weeks you should be able to gently brush your dog’s teeth without any fuss. If you can, try to focus brushing where the teeth meet the gum.

In addition to tooth brushing you can give your dogs hard chews suitable for their age and type to help keep them clean naturally too.

Problems with teeth

If your dog’s teeth look like they have a large build-up of plaque, the gums seem red or sore, they  struggle to eat or have bad breath then you should seek the advice of your vet as they may need professional attention.