Take care of your dog's teeth and clean them. Your dog's teeth need care like your teeth do - to keep healthy.
Dog teeth care at the vet is expensive, though may be as necessary as our own dental visits. Help your pup have the least teeth issues so the vet's dog teeth cleaning doesn't need to be as often, nor as intensive and expensive.
Be aware of the food and treats you give your dog. Softer and canned foods tend to stick to the teeth and let plaque grow. If you feed such, you should make sure to brush the teeth more often and after eating them or make sure to give your pup teeth cleaning snacks and toys (like a rope which acts as floss). Human food scraps often have sugar and starch (which turns to sugar), which is bad for your dog's teeth. Treats also may have sugars and sticky ingredients. Dry dog food may not be better for dog teeth as once thought - check it out for ingredients before buying. Dental treats help, because they crunch hard pieces around to help break up plaque and tartar.
To brush teeth, I use either a regular toothbrush (soft not hard bristles) or a pet one that vibrates - though my dog freaks out at the noise of vibration so I can't use that feature. A dog toothbrush for dogs may work even better. A better option is a finger brush, (which may be easier to get into the dog mouth). The finger brush helps massage the gums as well - plus you get a better feel around the teeth.
You might need help from someone to help open the mouth and keep it open, especially for the inside teeth surfaces. Try to make it fun and praise your pup. As with your toothbrushes, replace the pet one when it gets frayed and worn. Use a dog approved toothpaste and never a human toothpaste (the ingredients of human toothpaste could be harmful or toxic, particularly the ingredient xylitol). Put some dog toothpaste on the brush and let the dog lick it off to get used to it. Then brush the teeth. There are beef and other dog yummy toothpaste flavors. Try to brush daily, or at least 1-2 times a week.
Avoid bones, chew hooves and other hard chew things. They could break teeth. Bones can harbor bacteria as well. Bones can still break, even the large ones (if swallowed, the dog may need to barf it out). The chew hooves have had pieces broken off and swallowed - then barfed out in the middle of the night because the stomach wasn't happy with the chunk. Bones, hard toys and chew hooves have no "give" in them.
Give toys that are hard but have some give - and last. They need to be softer so the teeth don't get stressed to break from them (a compacted wood chew is decent). Don't give too soft a toy, though, as pieces can be pulled off and swallowed. It's hard to find suitable toys that aren't made in China (which tend to have bad ingredients and toxins - unregulated).
Look at your dog's teeth occasionally (weekly or at least monthly). If you see more yellowing or worse (if they look bad, missing, covered with crusty plaque, have bleeding gums) - get on the tooth brushing program more often. You probably should have a vet look at them too - for cleaning and a treatment plan.
You could use a toothpick to scrape off some hard tartar buildup (but be VERY CAREFUL - a vet is a better choice to do this) - and make a vet appointment soon. You don't want to have any tooth get a cavity or fall out - dogs have a better threshold for pain than we do, but we shouldn't let them suffer.
Rotten or missing teeth can cause more problems - affecting the heart, allowing toxins into the bloodstream from the roots, or the jawbone may rot. If the teeth get cavities or full of tartar, then there may be toxins that get pulled into the bloodstream from the root level causing infection, trauma, etc. The heart and lungs, for example, can have problems stemming from improper tooth care (poisons get into the bloodstream from the roots). Gum periodontal disease in dogs can cause more problems. Teeth can fall out when gum disease progresses and there is bone loss. There are so many problems that can be averted with proper dog teeth dental care.
Make an appointment with your vet every year or preferably twice a year to check the pet's teeth and health and get a thorough cleaning.
For a quick teeth cleanup or when on the go, try Dental Wipes.
There are recommended types of chew treats that clean and are healthy, breaking down plaque and cleaning the teeth. Many people like giving Greenies dental chews to their dogs - but one of mine didn't care for them, and the other breaks it in a few pieces and swallows, without working them through the teeth. They both like Whimzees dental chews, Find ones without sugars or starches.
Bad Breath? Your dog's breath might smell bad - if so, check the gums and mouth for sores, for tartar, for other problems. It could indicate other problems. If your dog's breath smells bad on a regular basis (and no obvious teeth issues), you might want to give him a breath freshener or spritz spray. It can help control buildup of tartar and plaque. You may also need to see your vet if something else is wrong.
Taking care of your dog's teeth are as important as taking care of your own teeth. Dog teeth and gum issues can affect health in further ways, like the lungs and heart, or complications due to toxicity in the blood. Make sure to help your pup keep his teeth healthy and clean.