Putting a dog under anesthesia just to clean their teeth has never sat well with me, thus, I've never taken my dog into the dentist for a teeth cleaning. Ever since he was a puppy I would routinely stick my fingers in his mouth to get him used to me checking out his teeth, and it's paid off on a few occasions. Like today, when I decided to try and remove the plaque from his teeth myself.
For those of you who want to try this, (it's worth a shot, because if it works you can save yourself a lot of money) here are some pointers:
- Pin them down between your legs on the floor in area with plenty of light.
- Keep the dog's mouth open with a rawhide chew. Wedge it behind their back teeth so they can't close their mouth [on you].
- Use a dental scaler, not a dental pick. Dental picks are sharp and if you slip (you will, since you're an amateur at this) you might stick your dog.
- Removing the plaque requires a fair bit of force. Start by focusing on one small area and scrape it in one direction until you start to scar the plaque and you can see if beginning to lift up. Then apply pressure to the weakened spot and try and dislodge the chunk of plaque sideways. I found the majority of my dog's plaque spots dislodged in small chunks.
- Apply pressure to the plaque in a direction that's safe, so if/when the dental scaler slips it goes in a direction that won't hurt your dog. I always applied pressure on his upper teeth downwards, and his lower teeth upwards.