Dental Tartar in Dogs

Dental tartar is also known as calculus and may form if plaque is not removed. The tartar is a film that will cover the tooth and will facilitate the accumulation of plaque and other bacteria, leading eventually to an early onset of periodontal disease or gingivitis. The accumulation of tartar may be prevented.

Dental Tartar in Dogs

Tartar, also known as calculus is a pellicle of calcium phosphate and carbonate and is formed if plaque is not removed.

Plaque is formed after each meal containing various bacteria, saliva and food remains. Plaque can be easily removed, but if this remains on the teeth for several days (at least 2 days), it will mineralize and turn into calculus.

Tartar cannot be removed with a brush, as plaque; tartar can only be removed using special paste and instruments. The removal of tartar may only be performed by a vet.

Signs of Tartar in Dogs

Tartar may be visible on the surface of the teeth and may also be felt when you brush your dog’s teeth; often tartar is darker in color than the dog’s teeth and will have a harder texture than the teeth.

When tartar causes gum disease, the dog will also have a foul odor in his mouth.

Dangers of Tartar Accumulation

Tartar may facilitate the gathering of plaque and may also be a starting point for periodontal disease. The tartar will build up at the gum line and will eventually affect the gum tissues as well, creating small pockets that will give the bacteria access to the dog’s blood flow. This can lead to other health problems such as heart disease.

Periodontal Disease

Periodontal disease is the most common consequence of tartar accumulation. When periodontal disease occurs, the gums will be swollen and red. The swelling may also affect the periodontal ligament and the roots of the teeth.

Common signs of periodontal disease include:

  • Swollen gums
  • Red gums
  • Pawing of the mouth, due to pain
  • Excessive drooling
  • Foul odor
  • The dog may chew more on one side of his mouth, as he cannot chew on the area that is affected; in some cases, the dog may refuse to eat
  • The dog will not allow you to check his teeth and may become aggressive if you attempt to open his mouth

These symptoms occur only when the condition is more advanced.

Preventing Tartar and Periodontal Disease

The easiest way to prevent tartar and consequently periodontal disease is to eliminate plaque before it hardens. This can be done using a soft toothbrush and canine toothpaste. Brushing your dog daily or at least once every 2 days will eliminate the film of plaque and will not allow the formation of tartar.

You should also schedule a yearly dental cleaning performed by your vet. He can remove any deposits of tartar and keep your dog’s teeth healthy for longer.