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Dog teeth health

I have a sweet little JRT aged 9 who I need to live a good, long life because I can’t imagine life without her. I recently read about the perils of gum disease as a precursor to organ failure in dogs. So, now after years of trusting dental chews and only looking at the front teeth, I’m starting to brush her teeth daily. And I’m shocked/horrified that her back teeth are actually really brown, and the gums easily bleed with brushing. Has anyone effectively treated this from home? Or do I need to contact the vet and have her put under for a dental cleaning? I have to be honest, that makes me nervous as well, though I would rather take care of it now before she’s older and frail.

I doubt there is anything you can do at home that will help get rid of years of plaque build up.

Edit to add - I find even with brushing their teeth, since it is so hard to affectively brush their back teeth, they still get plaque build up.


If your vet is on the up-and-up about dentals and surgery etc I would totally get her a dental now. Make sure they do the pre-op bloodwork, of course. Quite a few years ago a vet I used had a new thing where there was a gel that they inserted under the gum line that was supposed to help too. Our poor old Cocker that was an absolute genetic disaster (rescue) always felt like a brand new dog after a dental. He was probably 14, definitely upwards of 12, when he had his last one and came through it just fine.


I have greyhounds who are susceptible to really crummy teeth. I give them oravet chews every other day (they’re too picky/get bored if they get them every day). They used to have annual dentals but since we started the oravet they haven’t needed one at all! The chews are expensive, I think around 50¢ each, but the dentals were over $800, so it is a cost savings overall.


Off to google Oravet Chews. I have never heard of them.

They are on Chewy (but I get them cheaper through my vet): https://www.chewy.com/oravet-hygiene-dental-chews-large/dp/288616

Our Vet recommended a product called Plaque Off for our elderly dog. The product is seaweed based and is sprinkled over food. After a couple/few months of regular feeding there was considerable improvement. I suspect a sedated descaling would have produced better results but the improvement we noted was “good enough”.


I’ve been using Plaque Off on my tiny rescue since I adopted her. She did have a dental cleaning while with the rescue (and a few teeth removed) so I was starting with a clean slate. I’ve also used this on my previous dogs for most of their lives but brushed and fed a raw diet too. This dog does not let me brush her teeth so I’m hoping the supplement and her raw ground diet is enough.

I’ve used a gel that you rub onto the dog’s teeth, and it did a great job. Once the teeth were cleaned up, I sprinkle Nature’s dentist on their food a couple times a week. This has worked beautifully and the gel prevented the need for veterinary treatment. This was all done with the support of the vet. I’ll see if I can find the name of the gel.


I can’t find the same one I used (it was several years ago). But Tropiclean vet strength formula seems very similar. The instructions say to put drops in the dog’s mouth, but I put it on my finger and rubbed it on their teeth. I first used this on a 10 year old dog whose teeth had never been cleaned. She had significant plaque buildup but after using this regularly for several weeks, he teeth sparkled and the dental powder was enough to keep her teeth healthy. With the dogs I have now I just use the powder and their teeth are great. One of these dogs is 12 years old.

One of the things about dog teeth people forget is that gum disease starts under the gum line. All the brushing in the world and all the dog chews cannot remove the plaque that develops under the gum line.

As a breeder, (who learned the hard way), I recommend tooth brushing as young as possible but also recommend a dental with sedation at the vets as a base line for the full mouth x-ray.

I also advise the dental as soon as you notice debris buildup on the teeth. With my breed, mini poodle, sometimes this is between 2 and 5 years.

The first cleaning/x-rays can tell you what teeth to watch and/or pull the ones that are causing gum problems.

There are also specialist vets who just do just teeth. Generally cost more but the dog is not sedated for long as they are much quicker. Here is the website of the closest dental specialist to me. Lots of good info here: http://www.toothvet.ca/home.html

If you want your JRT to have the healthiest long life I recommend you get that dental soon. The Jacks I know/knew are very stoic so you may not be able to tell if they have tooth pain.

I really like the Merck manual for references to health issues. https://www.merckvetmanual.com/dog-owners/digestive-disorders-of-dogs/dental-disorders-of-dogs


Here is a great resource in case in plain language about dog and their teeth: https://vcacanada.com/know-your-pet/dental-disease-in-dogs