Cleaning your dog's teeth is an important way to keep him healthy. While this might not be the first thing dog owners worry about, dogs can get cavities and gum disease just like humans do. In fact, it is not uncommon for dogs to develop loose and even abscessed teeth. Abscesses are infections that can enter the bloodstream, where the infection can then travel to other organs and cause your dog to develop serious health problems. Keep your dog's mouth healthy and happy by brushing his teeth on a weekly basis.
Use the proper tools when cleaning your dog's teeth. This sometimes messy job can be performed much easier if you have the proper tools on hand. You need a toothpaste especially made for dogs and something to brush the dog's teeth with. Human toothpaste should never be used, as it is not for consumption and a dog will try to swallow it. You can use a toothbrush with stiff bristles, or you can use a rubber or plastic finger cap with a nubby surface on it (sometimes called a finger brush). In a pinch, you can wrap a rough washrag around your finger, but it may not work as well to get the tough tartar off the teeth.
Grab hold of your dog's head firmly and lift his upper lip. If you have a small dog, the easiest way to do this is to pull the dog onto your lap. If you have a large dog, try straddling the dog. If the dog is simply too large and tries to fight you, you should get someone to help you hold the dog still. Put a dab of toothpaste on the brush, and brush the dog's teeth using circular motions. Focus especially on the teeth near the gum line. When you are finished with the upper teeth, move on to the bottom teeth. Your dog will probably like the flavor of the toothpaste and spend a lot of energy trying to lick you and the toothbrush.
Brush your dog's teeth once or twice a week. Some dogs need two times per week in order to maintain cleanliness. Give your dog hard treats to chew on, as this will help his teeth stay clean. Take your dog to the vet once or twice a year for a professional tooth cleaning as well. If your dog has severe tartar, the veterinarian will have to put the dog under general anesthesia in order to clean the teeth completely. This is not uncommon and will not harm your dog. Avoid this in the future by keeping up on brushing your dog's teeth.