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Treating tartar in your dog

When bacterial deposits (plaque) are mineralized, a hard dental coating called tartar is formed. The tendency to tartar varies between different individuals and different breeds. Tartar forms more easily in certain areas of the oral cavity.

Tartar above the gum line

Calculus that forms above the gum line is called supragingival calculus, or salivary calculus. Such tartar can form in 2-3 days. Newly formed salivary calculus has a light whitish colour and chalk-like texture and can be seen as a coating along the gum line. It rapidly increases and can sometimes cover the entire tooth surfaces. Tartar can be prevented by regular tooth brushing.

Tartar in gum pockets

Tartar that forms under the gum line in gum pockets is called subgingival tartar, or serum tartar. It is dark due to stored blood pigments and often has a hard texture. Tartar occurs as small islands or in more continuous bands in the gum pockets.

Tartar that forms under the gum line is more difficult to remove, partly because it is difficult to access, partly because it adheres very tightly to the tooth surface. This type of calculus is discovered when the animal is sedated and the veterinarian examines the gums with a probe.

How to treat and remove tartar on dogs

You can remove lighter tartar yourself by regular brushing. If your dog has suffered from stronger calculus, it needs to be removed at the vet, usually then the dog needs to be sedated.

During a thorough dental examination under anaesthesia, the veterinarian removes tartar and checks for dental pockets. These are measured and cleaned. Teeth are usually x-rayed because most of a tooth is located below the gum line.

Gingivitis is caused by bacterial plaques

If plaque is not regularly brushed away, both plaque and calculus can cause gingivitis. Gingivitis is usually detected by the cat having red and inflamed gums. Lighter tartar can be removed by regular brushing.

How to prevent tartar

The best way to prevent plaque from mineralizing into tartar is to brush your dog's teeth regularly. The teeth should preferably be brushed daily because plaque starts to form again immediately after brushing. Tooth brushing can also remove lighter tartar that has started to form.

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