Dog Dental Care: The Best Puppy Toothbrushes of 2024 · The Wildest

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Doggie Dental Care: How to Choose the Best Toothbrush for a Puppy

Those pearly whites need all the attention they can get.

by Rebecca Caplan
April 3, 2024
Outdoor shot of a woman holding her dog.
Lumina / Stocksy

It’s been reported that roughly 80 percent of dogs show signs of oral health issues by the age of three. So, maintaining good dental hygiene for your puppy is crucial for their overall health and wellbeing — and starting early is the best way to get ahead of any future problems. 

Why is dental care important for puppies?

“Start brushing your dog’s teeth when you get them as a puppy at eight weeks old to get them used to their mouth being handled,” Dr. Lindsay Butzer says. 

Brushing their teeth regularly from an early age helps prevent plaque buildup, tartar formation — and eventually — gum disease, which can lead to painful infections and even tooth loss.

Plus, the earlier you start, the easier it will be to train your puppy to be comfortable with brushing and dental check-ups. Also, let’s be real; there’s a fine line between puppy breath and stinky breath. 

How often should you brush a puppy’s teeth?

It’s best to brush a puppy’s teeth twice a day if possible. It might seem like a lot, but your puppy’s teeth require just as much care and attention as a human’s. Of course, not all puppies are going to take to brushing easily, which is why Dr. Butzer recommends treating brushing like any other training experience:

“Simply make it a fun experience for them and always give them a treat after to reward them for being good,” Dr. Butzer advises. “Try to brush the teeth gently and avoid brushing too hard on the gums, as this can cause bleeding and irritation.”

How to choose the best dental care for your puppy

When it comes to choosing dental care products for your puppy, there are two factors to consider: gentleness and durability. A puppy’s teeth can be delicate and tender, while their temperament can be anything but. Products specifically designed for puppies often feature soft, durable rubbers that are designed to last until adulthood. When you can, opt for these products made for puppies over those designed for adult dogs. 

“Adult teeth are bigger and stronger than puppy teeth,” Dr. Butzer tells The Wildest. “The roots are deeper and the teeth themselves are larger as they are the permanent teeth.” That said, adult dog products are built to clean and withstand adult dog teeth and are often too tough for puppies. 

That’s why we’ve compiled a list of our favorite puppy-specific dental products that allow your pup to crush dental disease early on (and maybe snarf down a few Greenies along the way.)

The best toothbrushes for puppies

Nylabone Advanced Oral Care Original Flavor Puppy Dental Kit

Designed specifically for puppies’ tiny razor teeth, this toothbrush-and-toothpaste combo kit by Nylabone is a great start to your little one’s dental toolkit. With two types of toothbrushes (one that can be worn on your finger for easy brushing), you and your pup can explore what works for both of you.

Plus, the included toothpaste is mild and well-tolerated by pups not used to the taste and texture of toothpaste. Some reviews even say that their pups started to get excited for brushing time. That’s a big deal.

The best toothpaste for puppies

The best dental chews for puppies

Bocce's Bakery Dailies Brushy Stick Bars

We’ve talked in the past about how much we love these Bocce’s Bakery brushy sticks, but it’s worth reiterating: these things are dope. Formulated with natural ingredients, your pup will think they’re chewing on a regular yummy baked treat.

Meanwhile, the ridgy design and teeth healthy mint and coconut flavors are working hard to break down tough tartar. Also, we love that Bocce’s offers the treats in small, medium, and large — allowing pups of all sizes to indulge in delicious dental hygiene. 

The best dental bones for puppies

KONG Puppy Teething Stick — Teeth Cleaning Dog Chew Toy

Puppies may be avid chewers, but their teeth need gentle surfaces, especially while teething. That’s why we love this teething stick by KONG, formulated with gentle rubber just for puppies. Intended for use by puppies up to nine months, this teething stick can also be stuffed with chews or filled with dog-safe peanut butter. Keep in mind: While this teething stick is intended for puppies of all breeds, it’s only safe for use in puppies up to 35 pounds.

Remember that no teething toy is entirely safe for a puppy, and they should be watched at all times when using them.

The best dental treats for puppies

ProDen Plaqueoff System Holistic Oral Care Puppy Dental Dog Treats

Designed for puppies up to one year old, these plaque-fighting treats are great for staying on top of your pup’s dental game. Flavored with sweet potato and chicken, up to four treats a day (dependent on weight) will help keep teeth fresh between brushings.

Note that this treat does contain iodine-rich kelp, which is perfectly healthy for most dogs. But if your pup has been diagnosed with thyroid issues, make sure to talk with your vet before offering these to your pup.


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rebecca caplan

Rebecca Caplan

Rebecca Caplan is a writer based in Brooklyn whose work has been featured in The New Yorker, Reductress, and Vulture. She lives in Brooklyn with her perfect, toothless dog Moose.

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