Start by figuring out what position will be most comfortable for both you and your dog. For Angela Mees, DVM, of the Atlanta Veterinary Dental Services and her Greyhound, that’s standing. This lets Dr. Mees reach around from behind the dog and works well for them. Smaller dogs might be happy to sit in your lap. For Atle, I’ve found that having him lie on his side works best.

Where to start? Dr. Mees advises that one approach is to divide the dog’s mouth into four quadrants, tackling one at a time. She begins with her dog’s front teeth because they’re easiest to reach. Wherever you choose to begin, start with a wet brush, and gently work each area as follows, with pressure light enough that the bristles barely bend:

  • To brush the front teeth, gently pull back the dog’s lips.
  • For the upper back teeth, put the brush in the dog’s cheek, and, gently holding her muzzle, close her mouth and brush. Closing the mouth controls the dog’s tongue, reducing any struggle with brushing.
  • For the lower back teeth, release your hold on the muzzle a bit, slightly open the dog’s mouth, and brush the bottom back teeth.

Dr. Mees admits that getting the insides of the teeth is difficult, so don’t get discouraged if you can’t (the dog’s tongue tends to keep the inner sides of the teeth clean). And don’t be concerned about brushing your dog’s tongue and roof of her mouth.

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