How do plaque and dog tartar form, and what do they do?

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Dog tartar plaque is a sticky film that forms on teeth soon after eating. Within 24 hours, plaque begins to harden by mixing with saliva-based minerals. Over time, hardened plaque transforms into tartar (or calculus), which is rough and porous. It can develop both above and below the gum line.

Here are two ways that Dog tartar harms the teeth and gums.


It first forms on teeth as a rough surface. It provides a place for bacteria to grow and multiply in the mouth, which can cause inflammation of the gums (gingivitis).

This often results in painful bleeding. Gingivitis too often progresses to periodontal disease, causing even more inflammation, pain, and tooth loss. As dog tartar builds up along the gum line, it pushes the gums away from the roots of teeth. When gums recede they expose sensitive areas of the tooth that are enamel-free and unprotected, leading to sensitivity and pain.

Secondly, the bacteria on the dog tartar can enter your bloodstream and be carried to different organs, such as the heart or kidneys, leading to infection.


Tartar on dog

How can I prevent plaque and dog tartar formation on my dog’s teeth?

Although professional teeth cleanings are important, they must be supplemented with at-home dental care to prevent plaque buildup. There are several things you can do at home to reduce plaque accumulation:

  • The best way to prevent dog tartar and plaque buildup on your dog’s teeth is to feed them a VOHC-accepted dental diet. This food either mechanically or chemically slows the accumulation of plaque, which in turn reduces tartar development.
  • To keep your dog’s teeth clean and free of plaque, brush or wipe them down daily. Never use human toothpaste on your dog, as the ingredients can upset their stomach if swallowed.
  • By adding a VOHC-accepted water additive to reduce the number of bacteria in your mouth, you can achieve Fresher breath.
  • Always supervise your dog when they are chewing on toys or bones to prevent them from breaking their teeth. Dogs that chew on hard objects can break their teeth, so it’s important to offer them safe alternatives like dental chews and toys specifically designed to remove tartar build-up.
  • Your dog should have a dental cleaning every 6 to 12 months as soon as tartar starts to build up. Just like people, dogs need regular cleanings to prevent gum disease and root damage.
dog tartar remover

How do I know if the product I’m using to prevent tartar is actually working?

Only dental products that are safe and have undergone strict scientific testing to prove their plaque and tartar-reducing abilities are accepted by the Veterinary Oral Health Council. Check their website to be sure that you are using the appropriate products.

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If you need your dog to have its teeth professionally cleaned, do not hesitate to contact us in order to book an appointment. We are always only a phone call away and we can come to your home to save you time & money.

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