Taking Care of Your Golden Retriever’s Teeth

Written by Cory Eckert

Did you know that when pups are six weeks old, they have 28 teeth in their mouths? Teeth are one of the most important parts of a dog’s body and taking care of them should be part of the daily if not weekly routine!  Just think about all the things a dog does with their mouth - eating, playing, holding things, and showing us affection by licking.  

But did you know that just like some humans, Golden Retrievers are prone to tooth decay if their teeth are not taken care of? Breeds differ with concerns regarding their teeth, but for Golden Retrievers it can become a real problem.  

Poor dental care can cause problems such as horrible doggy breath, gum inflammation, tooth loss, and serious health issues like periodontal disease.  

This disease can lead to heart and kidney problems due to the bacteria and infection being carried through the bloodstream.

Before we discuss how to take care of your dog’s teeth, we really need to start at the beginning; and that is - what you feed your Golden Retriever?  When you feed your golden with high quality, healthy food, teeth will grow stronger and so will your dog. 

Poor quality foods are not only unhealthy but can harm your dog’s teeth.  This can cause plaque and tartar build up and keep your dog’s dental health and immune system functioning below par. High-quality dry foods with natural ingredients produce the opposite effect and containing enzymes and other supplements that break down the build-up.

So, start your pup or dog off right - with high-quality health food for a strong, healthy body and teeth!  

Now let’s look at taking care of your golden’s precious teeth. Cleaning your Golden Retriever’s teeth is not hard to do, the earlier you start, the easier it will be and the more comfortable they will be allowing you to do it.  Let’s get started!

Items you could use for cleaning your pup/dog’s teeth:

  • Regular toothbrush for people
  • Dog-specific toothbrush
  • Gauze Pads/Cleansing Pads
  • Finger Burshes
  • Dog-Specific Toothpaste

Currently there are many types of dog-specific toothbrushes available to brush your dog’s teeth.  Make sure you get one that is the right size depending the size of your dog. You can use a regular toothbrush if you prefer.  

It’s important to buy dog-specific toothpaste too.  The toothpaste we use has ingredients that may be harmful and toxic to your dog.  Since dogs do not spit, it is crucial that the toothpaste is dog-friendly since they will be swallowing it.

The use of gauze/cleansing pads and finger brushes can introduce teeth cleaning to your pup or new dog.  Since you are trying to eventually get your golden accustomed to brushing their teeth, it is important to start slowly and proceed with small steps.

It’s not necessary to hold your dog’s mouth open when brushing nor do you have to worry about the insides of the teeth.  Your dog’s tongue and saliva keep the inside of the teeth cleaner and more plague free than the outside of the teeth.

How can we introduce cleaning in small steps?

  • Allow your Golden Retriever to lick a tasty treat off your finger.
  • Gently touch the front teeth by moving your finger around as your dog licks.
  • Add some dog-specific toothpaste to your finger and let your dog lick it.
  • Lift your dog’s top and side lips, and gently rub the toothpaste on the front teeth.
  • Slowly try to reach more of the back teeth, as well as the front.
  • Once your dog is comfortable with this, introduce a gauze/cleaning pad with toothpaste.
  • While holding the lip out of the way, rub the gauze on the tooth in a circular motion.
  • Work all around the tooth and gum line.
  • When you and your pup/dog are comfortable with these steps, you can proceed to using a finger brush and eventually a toothbrush!
  • Give your golden a doggie treat, such as a hard dog biscuit, after you have cleaned the teeth to help finish off the brushing process.
  • Besides brushing, you can use quality dental chews that also scrape off plaque and tartar, helps prevent build up with consistent use, as well as, fresher breath.
Remember, your golden is part of the family and a healthy dog is a happy dog!
  • Give your dog high quality healthy dry food that helps prevent build-ups.
  • Introduce teeth cleaning early on so your pup will be accustomed to it.
  • Proceed slowly and be consistent – daily preferred, if not once a week.
  • Use dog-friendly items – finger brush, toothbrushes, toothpaste, chew toys, treats, dental chews, etc.
  • Yearly veterinarian visits to check your Golden Retriever’s teeth and overall health.

Things to watch out for:

Dogs generally won't let you know that something is wrong with their teeth, so it is hard to diagnose if anything is wrong until it is very serious.  Here are some signs to look for with your dog:

  • Change of eating habits
  • Lack of appetite
  • Rubbing of face against things
  • Swelling on your dog’s face

Since you are already routinely taking care of your dog’s teeth, you are much more likely to spot any problems regarding the teeth that may arise. Here are a few common dog tooth issues that you should watch out for:

  • Loose teeth – are a problem for older dogs and can be a result of trauma to the mouth.  It may also indicate gum loss or periodontal disease. If your dog has a loose tooth it should be checked out immediately.
  • Misaligned teeth – can occur due to extra deciduous teeth or misalignment of the upper or lower jaw.  Misaligned teeth are dealt with only if they cause pain or prevent your dog from eating or drinking.
  • Periodontal Disease – begins when plaque turns into tartar under the gum lime and causes gingivitis.  This can cause tooth loss and other serious problems that can affect your dog’s heart and kidneys. Contributing factors are: age, immune system, diet, chewing habits and dental hygiene.
  • Tooth Trauma – is caused by a dog forcibly biting hard things that cause the tooth to flake off resulting in a chip or gaping fracture.  This in turn, exposes the nerve causing pain.
  • Tooth Root Abscess – can occur when the root of the tooth is exposed to harmful bacteria, and may be caused by gum damage and periodontal disease.  The abscess can spread to other teeth making it hard to know which is the infected tooth.

If you notice a change in your Golden Retriever’s behavior or if you notice any of the above teeth issues, see your veterinarian as soon as possible.  The sooner your dog is pain-free the happier he will be! 

Do you have any other ways of taking care of your golden retrievers teeth that we may have missed? Maybe a tip or trick we didn't mention? Please leave us a comment below and let us know!

About the author

Cory Eckert

Cory is the co-creator of GoldenRetrieverLove.com and a life long dog enthusiast. From training livestock dogs as a child to working with obedience classes as an adult, it's hard to imagine Cory without a dog. Currently enjoying being a dog parent to Remi (a chocolate lab) and Annie (a golden retriever).