Animals don’t really chew with their fangs, the canines. The canine teeth are meant for holding onto prey and ripping and tearing flesh. Therefore, chewing on an antler or raw bone might not scrape tartar off the canine teeth, while it often works better for the back teeth, the molars.
It seems excessive to put a dog under anesthesia to clean two teeth (one on each side). The problem with brushing the teeth is once the tartar has built up, it is like concrete and very hard to remove.
There are some pet foods and products marketed as tartar control. These products either work by chipping off the tartar or chemical action. But we just discussed that dogs don’t chew with their canines, so chipping off the tartar with food probably isn’t going to work very well (let alone the ingredients are less than ideal).
The problem with the chemical tartar control products is twofold. First, the chemicals need to make contact with the teeth for a long enough period of time to degrade the tartar. Most dogs don’t leave things in their mouth long enough for that to happen. The second issue is what are those chemicals? Are they really chemicals that we want in our pet’s body? If the manufacturer does not disclose the chemicals or you do not know what the ingredients mean, then they are potentially hazardous to an animal’s health. It’s not worth it, especially if it’s not going to contact the teeth anyway to make a difference.
Here are a few things to try at home:
Use the edge of your thumb nail and try to chip off the tartar.
Use a gauze 4 x 4 pad and rub the area every day.
There are some natural tartar control products based on essential oils – things you can pronounce. Spray these essential oil based products directly on the tartar-covered tooth. Over time, the tartar will break down.
There are also veterinary technician who perform dental cleanings without anesthesia. Research when the group is in your area then start fresh and brush teeth several times a week to keep that tartar away.
Good for you for wanting to keep your pup’s teeth clean, and good for you for looking in her mouth. Since the tartar buildup is early, this can often be managed at home.