When dogs eat, plaque forms on their teeth, and if not brushed away regularly, it hardens into tartar, which can cause a variety of dental health problems. Our Glendale vets explain how plaque and tartar form in a dog's mouth and how to prevent it in this post.
Plaque & Tartar In Dogs
Plaque is a sticky substance that forms on a dog's teeth after eating and is a combination of bacteria, saliva, and food particles. If this plaque is not brushed away within 24 hours, it begins to harden by combining with the salts found in saliva. Tartar forms as plaque continue to harden and mineralize. Tartar (also known as calculus) is a porous and rough substance that can form above and below the gumline of a dog. Only your dog's veterinarian will be able to remove hardened plaque and tartar.
As tartar forms its rough surface, it gives bacteria places to hide and grow. This bacteria can cause a condition called gingivitis (early-stage gum disease). The symptoms of gingivitis include inflamed, painful, and bleeding gums. If gingivitis goes untreated, it can turn into periodontal disease. Periodontal disease is the most advanced stage of gum disease where the gums become even more painful, inflamed, and start to recede, which could eventually result in missing teeth.
Did you know tartar and dental issues don't just affect your dog's mouth? This bacteria can spread throughout your pup's body by being absorbed into the bloodstream, having the potential to cause problems with other organs such as the kidneys and heart.
How To Prevent Plaque & Tartar In Dogs
Follow these tips to prevent plaque and tartar in your dog's mouth:
Brush Your Dog's Teeth
Brushing your dog's teeth every day or weekly is one of the best ways to prevent plaque and tartar. If your dog isn't used to having their teeth brushed, you will have to introduce them to the process gradually. It's also important to be patient. It can take a while for your dog to let you brush all of their teeth at once.
Use canine-specific toothpaste. Begin by using your finger to apply the toothpaste to your dog's teeth and gums. You can gradually introduce the toothbrush after your dog has become accustomed to the toothpaste and having their mouth touched. You can accomplish this by moving at your dog's pace and gradually increasing the time you use the toothbrush. Don't try to brush all of their teeth until they're comfortable with the toothbrush.
Don't forget to brush over your dog's gumline because this is where plaque and tartar can build up.
Dental Treats & Formulated Dog Food
Dental treats can be a great addition to your dog's daily oral hygiene routine. Many of these products can remove food debris and loosen plaque on your dog's teeth as they chew.
There are brands of dog food available that are designed to help clean your dog's teeth and reduce the build of plaque and tartar.
Professional Dental Exams & Cleanings At The Vet
Just like humans need to see the dentist regularly for routine exams and cleanings, dogs also have to see their vet for this purpose. We recommend bringing your dog to the vet for routine dental appointments once a year.
During these visits, your veterinarian will thoroughly clean your dog's teeth and gums, removing any plaque or tartar that has formed. Even if you clean your dog's mouth on a regular basis at home, your veterinarian will be able to clean the places you can't. As previously stated, your veterinarian is the only person who can remove tartar from your dog's teeth once it has formed.
In addition to this, your vet will conduct a comprehensive examination of your dog's teeth to make sure your pup's mouth is healthy. If your veterinarian does detect an issue, they can start treatment before it gets worse.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.