Plaque is the sticky, yucky colorless film that constantly is forming on the teeth!
Bacteria live in this and animals have a ton of "Sub-gingival" plaque (that means below the gum line). This Plaque forms within 24 hours. Calculus is when the plaque hardens, and this substance CAN NOT be removed by brushing your dog's teeth. Let me repeat - once plaque hardens you CAN NOT brush this away!
Don't panic. Dr. B shares some of her favorite things to use to prevent plaque and calculus (a.k.a. tartar):
Brush your pets' teeth TWICE a day. Because plaque constantly grows with nasty bacteria on your pet's teeth, you really should brush twice a day like you yourself do. I know, this sounds like a lot and how the heck do you brush your cat's teeth! That is a blog for another day... First, you must use special "animal toothpaste". Why - because human toothpaste has fluoride which if swallowed by your dog is extremely toxic. We can not tell our dog or cat to rinse and spit! So doggie and kitty toothpaste only, please.
Can't remember to brush twice daily? Don't worry only 3% of people do and out of that 3%, most of them are Veterinary Technicians who are the ones educating clients about dental health. I myself am guilty of not remembering to brush my 3 dogs' teeth. I love dental diets, especially for cats! My favorite is Purina DH (Dental Health). Seriously easy, plus you have to feed your pet anyway right! This is a great maintenance diet and if you are not brushing, then this is a great alternative. Keep in mind that this is considered a prescription, so call your vet and ask. We also have ways you can order directly from Purina.
Don't want to switch diets? Try a food additive. Stick to ones that have been tested for efficacy and safety (that means it is proven to work and known to be safe). One I really like is Clenz-a-Dent which contains purified Ascophyllum Nodosum, a seaweed extract that makes the plaque fall right off. It is a natural product with no additives, is preservative-free, sugar-free, and gluten-free! Just apply to your pet's food once daily. But you have to remember to be consistent!
Last but most important is Dental Prophylaxis. A.K.A. Dental Cleaning. Prophylaxis means an action to take to prevent disease. So we are doing a dental cleaning to prevent dental disease. Unfortunately, too many people (and Veterinarians) believe in only cleaning their pet's teeth professionally when "disease" is already present! And that doesn't make sense. It is recommended by the American Veterinary Dental College to do a true Dental Prophylaxis at least once a year!
Well, there you go! You need to do something for those precious mouths out there, and if you are not brushing you need to do something else!!! Try one of the options above, or make sure you speak with your vet about the best treatment for your furry friend.