How to Begin
As stated above, dental care should begin immediately, no matter what the age of your Poodle. If you have an older Poodle and you have not been providing dental care, please bring your Poodle to the veterinarian for a "Full Dental". Once the veterinarian has diagnosed and resolved any issues and has performed a full cleaning, you can then start the process of cleaning at home. It is never too late for dental care to begin. With that being said, we must repeat that it is best to start when your Poodle is a young puppy - The 1st steps can be done for a puppy
as young as 2 months old.
Step 1 - Scheduling. Choose a time of the day that you wish to designate as "teeth time". It has no great bearing on whether this is in the morning or at night. The important element is that you choose a time that will best fit into your schedule. You may find that providing dental care right before daily play time works wonderful. Your Poodle will begin to think that behaving nicely during "teeth time" equals fun play afterward.
Step 2 - Touching. You will want to begin by simply allowing your Poodle to become used to the feeling of having his or her teeth touched. You will not be using any brushes or paste for this step. Young puppies and even older dogs will not understand this at first. They may think that you are playing a game, or they may do their best to wiggle away.
It is important to be patient. However, you will find that by sitting on the floor, with your Poodle on your lap (tummy facing up), with your leg supporting your dog's head, your left hand 's thumb gently holding the mouth open and your right hand touching the teeth works best.
At this stage, simply use your finger (be careful about long fingernails) to softly rub each tooth. Make sure to touch all teeth, especially the back molars. This only needs to last for 1-2 minutes. Be sure to do this every day, without fail. This step should be done for 2-3 weeks.
It is your Poodle who will often tell you when they are ready for the next step; you will notice that as each day goes by, your Poodle wiggles less and less...until they reach a point of just "giving up" and allowing you to touch the teeth.
No matter whether it is a struggle to reach that point or if your Poodle adapts the 1st day...be sure to offer soothing words while doing this, and great words of praise and perhaps a small, healthy treat when done.
Step 3 - Paste. Before you move on to the other steps, now is the time to introduce toothpaste. It is extremely important to never use human toothpaste. Because a Poodle (or any dog breed) cannot "rinse and spit", a good portion of the paste may be swallowed. For this reason, human toothpaste must never be used, as it can be toxic to a dog that swallows it. While this is true for all dogs, this is particularly true for toy Poodles
and miniature Poodles. Though enough will adversely affect a Standard
as well. In addition, you will find that your Poodle loves the meat flavored dog toothpaste much better than they would a minty human toothpaste.
Simple add a small dollop of the paste to your finger and then rub it gently on each tooth. When you are done, use a small, soft, damp cloth to wipe off as much of the paste as you can. It is perfectly fine for your Poodle to swallow some of the paste when you are using canine toothpaste.