Within a few hours after your dog eats, the gummy substance called plaque forms on the teeth. Within 24 hours, the plaque begins to harden by combining with the salts that are present in saliva. As the plaque continues to accumulate and mineralize, it transforms into tartar.
Tarter forms a rough surface and serves as a place for bacteria to grow and multiply in the mouth. These bacteria can cause inflammation of the gums (gingivitis), which often results in bleeding. If gingivitis worsens, it leads to periodontal disease, which leads to further inflammation, pain and tooth loss. As tartar builds up along the gum line, it pushes the gums away from the roots of the teeth. As the gums recede, they expose the sensitive, enamel-free part of the tooth which causes pain.
The bacteria on the tartar can be absorbed into the blood stream and deposited in various organs, including the heart and the kidneys, causing infection.
To protect your dog from gum disease, home dental care is needed to help reduce plaque and tartar buildup. You can decrease plaque accumulation by:
Predisposition to Excessive Tartar Build-up
Dogs with chronic health conditions also seem to collect more tartar on their teeth. This could be due to less vigorous chewing, or it could be the result of changes in saliva quantity, gum health, the pH in the mouth, or other causes.