Helpful Tips

Cleaning Plaque Off Dog Teeth – How To Do It

dog mouth

Your dog’s teeth can become stained and yellow and covered in plaque, just like yours, without proper brushing. And that’s the biggest difference here. People tend to brush their teeth several times a day, while a dog can’t without your help. But if your biggest complaint is “my dog won’t let me brush his teeth!” then over time, you’ll have to deal with an expensive cleaning bill and possibly extractions. Fortunately, cleaning plaque off dog teeth is a simple enough process, if you have a few tricks up your sleeve. If you’re looking for an easier way to clean your dog’s teeth and remove plaque buildup, then you’ve come to the right place.

Cleaning plaque off dog teeth regularly will prevent tartar buildup. To remove plaque, give your dog a raw meaty bone or an antler. This type of chewing action can help to remove any plaque on the teeth. Brushing your dog’s teeth daily will keep their teeth looking good and can prevent more plaque buildup in the future. Even if you brush your dog’s teeth daily, you will still need to make an appointment with your vet for an annual cleaning. This is because you don’t have the special tools to remove the plaque from under the gumline. During a professional cleaning, your dog will be under anesthesia since removing plaque from below the gum line can be a very delicate process.

What is Plaque?

Have you noticed plaque buildup on your dog’s teeth? Plaque develops when your dog’s saliva mixes with their food. While it may not seem like it, plaque buildup can lead to serious complications if left untreated, including tooth loss, periodontal disease, and tooth decay. Usually, hardened plaque must be removed by a vet who will rely on the use of anesthesia and special tools to carefully remove the tartar.

However, you can be proactive and avoid the stress that comes with taking your pet to the vet for a dental cleaning. Did you know you can remove plaque buildup on your dog’s teeth at home? Brushing your dog’s teeth regularly and using chew toys and dog dental chews can be an effective way to prevent both tartar and plaque buildup.

Why Tartar Can Be a Problem

Doctor shows
Doctor shows a lot of tartar in the dog on the corner teeth

Plaque will begin as a yellow sticky substance that slowly starts as a combination of both dog food and saliva. Bacteria is what causes the sticky texture of plaque and it can cause even more bacteria to start growing. When there’s too much bacteria built up on the teeth this can lead to bad breath, tooth loss, and inflammation of the gums. When the plaque hardens it will turn into tartar, which can lead to gingivitis. If left untreated, gingivitis can cause tooth infections and receding gums.

The Dangers of Periodontal Disease in Dogs

If your dog is diagnosed with periodontal disease it can result in bacteria from the mouth entering their bloodstream. This can cause changes to the kidneys, liver, and heart.

Regular Oral Care

All vets recommend brushing a dog’s teeth at least three times a week, however, the goal should be daily oral care. It’s also important to begin brushing your dog’s teeth as early as possible so they’ll be used to having their teeth brushed by the time they reach adulthood. While brushing your dog’s teeth daily would be ideal, any amount of brushing during the week is better than none at all.

You should also have your dog’s teeth deep cleaned once a year by a professional. This still applies even if you brush their teeth daily. This visit will give the vet a chance to assess your dog’s health and ensure no serious health issues are going on such as periodontal disease, which can cause heart problems if left untreated.

Professional Cleaning

When your dog has their teeth cleaned professionally, this process is referred to as dental scaling. Your vet will clean your dog’s teeth while they’re under anesthesia since tartar is firmly attached to the surface of the teeth. Often, hand instruments and ultrasonic tools will be used to remove the tartar and plaque. The vet will remove tartar and plaque from the surface of the teeth as well as below the gumline. As you can see, this would be difficult to do at home. However, removing bacteria and tartar from under the gums is critical to gum health since it can eventually move to the bloodstream if not treated by a professional.

A tooth polisher is also used. When the teeth are polished after plaque removal, it leaves a white, clean surface.

Softening and Removing Plaque

dog wipe

When a dog is a puppy, they have beautiful white clean teeth. However, over the years odor and stains can develop. If a dog yawns, most owners can really smell their breath. This is a major sign that their teeth need to be cleaned. Since tartar is very hard, it’s best to begin home treatment early, and remove plaque buildup before it has time to harden and turn into tartar.

If you want to remove plaque buildup, begin by feeding your dog a healthier diet that includes raw antlers or meaty bones. This type of chewing action will prevent tartar from building up. Some vets believe that antlers are a better choice because they’re much harder than raw bones and don’t need to be refrigerated.

Another way to remove plaque from your dog’s teeth is to use a water additive. This type of additive will help to control tartar and contains chlorhexidine as the main ingredient. This chemical can reduce the amount of bacteria in your pet’s mouth.

Additionally, mouth sprays can work the same way and prevent bacteria from building up in the mouth.

Dental Problems by Breed

Some breeds of dogs are more prone to developing tartar than others. Toy breeds and short-nosed breeds have a mouth shape that prevents their teeth from meeting their jaw when they chew. This can actually minimize the effectiveness of chewing on bones or antlers to remove plaque.

Additionally, small breeds also have very small mouths which often results in teeth overcrowding. In an overcrowded mouth, bacteria can build up at a faster rate, not to mention brushing a dog’s teeth when overcrowding is involved can be pretty complicated.

Related Questions

Why Would You Need a Dog Stroller?

The best dog jogging stroller will be perfect for dogs who are recovering from injuries or surgery, disabled dogs, and senior dogs who simply don’t have the energy to keep up with you on your daily walks anymore. A stroller will help to improve your dog’s quality of life, allowing them to go with you, wherever you go, and once again enjoy exploring the great outdoors with their favorite human. If you’re looking for a model that’s designed for smaller breeds I recommend the VIVO Four wheel pet stroller. This model is compact, lightweight, and easy to maneuver.

Do Dogs Really Need Dental Cleanings?

Yes. Most dogs will only need to have their teeth cleaned by their vet once a year. During this appointment your vet will carefully remove the plaque located below the gumline, using special tools. They will also address any current dental issues such as severe decay, loose teeth, receding gums, infections, and more. As your pet grows older you may need to take them in for a professional cleaning twice a year. Of course, if you brush their teeth daily, their risk of dental issues and complications is reduced significantly. However, they will still benefit from annual cleanings by a professional.

Is it Too Late to Start Brushing My Dog’s Teeth?

No. It’s never too late. However, if you start brushing your dog’s teeth later on in life you can expect it to be more complicated. Aside from bad breath and plaque buildup, you may have a hard time just getting your dog to sit still for the process. If you’re struggling to get your dog adjusted to oral care, remember to be patient and be ready to give your dog some treats and plenty of praise each time your dog tolerates your attempts.

Final Thoughts

Cleaning plaque off dog teeth can be as simple as giving them an antler or raw bone to chew on a few times a week and brushing their teeth daily. Annual deep cleans will still be important, even if your dog tolerates daily brushing. Remember, proper oral care in dogs is crucial to prevent serious complications down the line, such as receding gums, gum disease, infections, and periodontal disease.