Tartar in dogs: everything you need to know about the disease that affects dogs' teeth

 Tartar in dogs: everything you need to know about the disease that affects dogs' teeth

Tracy Wilkins

Dog teeth are fundamental to canine development. Throughout their lives, they use the structures to feed, gnaw, bite and even play. Therefore, taking care of the pet's health also includes a series of oral care to prevent problems such as tartar in dogs. But what is this condition? How to identify a dog with tartar and what treatments areTo clarify the main doubts on the subject, Patas da Casa spoke with veterinarian Mariana Lage-Marques, who specializes in dentistry at the University of São Paulo (USP) and attends the Pet Place Veterinary Center.

Dog tartar: what is it and how does it develop?

According to the expert, tartar in dogs is a consequence of the absence of plaque removal, which is the accumulation of bacteria on the tooth surface - also known as biofilm. This usually happens when there is no care for the pet's oral health, causing dirt to be lodged in the teeth, which later become plaque"Daily tooth brushing is recommended because bacterial plaque is removable. With the toothbrush, it is possible to remove this plaque, preventing it from adhering even more to the tooth. But from the moment the plaque begins to adhere, it calcifies and becomes what we know as tartar on the dog, which is a lay name.Technically, the correct term is dental calculus".

The main reason for the appearance of tartar in dogs is due to the absence of oral hygiene, which is a practice that helps to remove the bacterial plaque that causes the problem. "Tartar only forms when there is no tooth brushing", reveals Mariana.

How to identify a dog with tartar?

Analyzing your puppy's mouth is an important step to know if he has tartar or not. According to the dentist, some clinical signs stand out, such as the darkening of the teeth, the presence of halitosis (also known as bad breath) and, in some cases, the condition may be accompanied by gingivitis, which is the inflammatory gingival process. "Failure to remove tartar and plaque can end upAs this region is the main responsible for protecting the periodontium, an inflamed gum loses the ability to protect the bone and the ligament of the teeth. With this, the dog can develop periodontitis, which is the inflammatory process of the bone ", he explains. Mouth bleeding is very common in these cases, so it is good to be alert. Another characteristic of theperiodontitis is that, over time, inflammation of the bones and ligaments results in mobile teeth that may fall out.

How to clean dog tartar: what you need to know about the treatment

Many people wonder how to eliminate dog tartar as if it were something simple and possible to be done at home, but it is not quite so. If you have a dog with tartar, it is necessary to turn to a specialist in the subject to analyze the situation: "It is important that the cleaning of the dog's teeth is carried out by a professional specialist in veterinary dentistry, because thetreatment is not just about cleaning, but it is an investigation of what we cannot see." In this way, there is an assessment of what is hidden under the gum as well. "I say that the tooth is like an iceberg. We see the top and the bottom determines how the health of the periodontium is. We use intraoral radiography, a procedure thatis usually only done by specialists".

The doctor also points out that the process needs general anesthesia: "It is necessary to evaluate the subgingival and clean the microorganisms that may have penetrated beyond the gum or under it. Therefore, this cleaning needs to be done thoroughly. If there is a need for extraction, this is also something that will be determined by the professional ".

Dogs with tartar: are all dogs suitable for this treatment?

Because it is a procedure that requires general anesthesia, many owners feel insecure and wonder if their dog is fit to undergo periodontal treatment. About this doubt, Mariana clarifies: "All dogs can undergo tartar cleaning as long as they are clinically examined. There is no patient who can perform the procedure without having been evaluated,then it is recommended to perform a clinical examination of the animal as a whole - heart, liver, kidneys - and also to perform pre-surgical examinations to detect if there is any concomitant disease or other comorbidity that prevents or increases the anesthetic risk during this procedure".

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Tartar: dogs that don't get treatment can develop other problems

Tartar in dogs can develop into more serious conditions, such as gingivitis and periodontitis, but these are not the only concerns. "When gingivitis sets in, it becomes a gateway for various microorganisms. They tend to fall into the bloodstream and, with this, the spread of microorganisms to the general system occurs, and can migrate to previously inflamed organsor already with some problem, such as heart, kidneys, spine, liver and so on ", he adds. Precisely for this reason, the intention is not to allow the accumulation of tartar in the dog so that gingivitis does not occur and, consequently, there is no spread or translocation of microorganisms into the animal's body. "Over time, bone loss occurs and the patient loses his teeth. Thisin addition to being a chronic infectious process, it is also a discomfort that needs to be solved", concludes Mariana

Is it possible to prevent tartar in dogs? Check out some tips!

Yes, it is entirely possible to prevent dog tartar as long as the guardian takes certain care with the oral health of his four-legged friend. In addition to tooth brushing, which is essential to keep the problem at bay, dentist Mariana says that there are substances and adjuvant products that can be used, and also some toys that can help remove plaque from the teeth.An example of this are dog teethers, which are great for "cleaning" the animal's smile while he has fun. However, here's a warning: "The guardian should avoid natural bones and nylon toys, because they infinitely increase the incidence of dental fractures".

Regarding brushing the dog's teeth, the expert points out that this is an activity that should be pleasurable for both the dog and its guardian. Therefore, it is worth rewarding and giving some treats for the animal to associate the moment with something positive. For dogs that are not very used to the brushing process or puppies that have recently undergone teething, here is a tip fromMariana: "You can start by brushing the dog's tooth with a gauze wrapped around your finger and massaging the gum and tooth, and then replace it with a veterinary toothbrush and toothpaste (human toothpastes cannot be used). This brushing should happen gradually and always with affection." See how to brush your dog's tooth with a step by step:

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1) Take advantage of the moments when the dog is more relaxed to start the brushing process gradually (without haste and with enough patience).

2) The more comfortable the dog feels being touched near the muzzle area, the better, so start by stroking the head, the outside of the mouth, and finally the inside of the mouth.

3) Massage the gums with your finger, then with gauze, and only after that use the brush with the dog toothpaste.

4) Start brushing with circular movements, then direct the movement from the gums to the tips of the teeth.

5) If you notice that the puppy is comfortable with the situation, try brushing the teeth from the side of the tongue. done!

Tracy Wilkins

Jeremy Cruz is a passionate animal lover and dedicated pet parent. With a background in veterinary medicine, Jeremy has spent years working alongside veterinarians, gaining invaluable knowledge and experience in caring for dogs and cats. His genuine love for animals and commitment to their well-being led him to create the blog Everything you need to know about dogs and cats, where he shares expert advice from veterinarians, owners, and respected experts in the field, including Tracy Wilkins. By combining his expertise in veterinary medicine with insights from other respected professionals, Jeremy aims to provide a comprehensive resource for pet owners, helping them understand and address their beloved pets' needs. Whether it's training tips, health advice, or simply spreading awareness about animal welfare, Jeremy's blog has become a go-to source for pet enthusiasts seeking reliable and compassionate information. Through his writing, Jeremy hopes to inspire others to become more responsible pet owners and create a world where all animals receive the love, care, and respect they deserve.