Do dogs' teeth get dirty faster after having them cleaned the first time?
January 27, 2011 5:06 PM   Subscribe

Do dogs' teeth get dirty faster after having them cleaned the first time?

I'm thinking the subject of having my dog's teeth cleaned by the vet. I'm not sure exactly when I'll have to do it (she's only two, she eats nothing but hard food and treats, and her teeth look great right now), but I know it's only a matter of time, and it will need to be done.

I'm asking this question because I heard that after getting a dog's teeth cleaned for the first time, their teeth will get dirty faster after that. Is that true? If so, why? When I asked a vet about it, he kind of said that they have to make sure to do a good job smoothing/polishing the teeth after the cleaning. Is there something about the procedure that can leave the teeth less smooth, so that they hold "bad stuff" more easily, and will need cleaning sooner next time?

Also, I know someone who uses dental instruments to scrape the tartar build-up off of her dog's teeth. Is this safe for the dog's teeth? I know the dentist uses these instruments on my teeth and it seems to be safe, I want to make sure it's ok for dogs too.

(btw, I know there's lots of good advice on what to feed dogs to help their teeth, and on good ways to tell when their teeth need to be cleaned, etc, etc, but please, I just am really asking about these specific questions.)

Thanks all.
posted by atm to Pets & Animals (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Dental cleanings vary, check with your vet on which type of equipment/process they use and it will be easier to do research on it. I suppose if the vet (or vet tech as it usually is) does damage to the teeth it would make them more prone to infection but you should avoid places that would be so careless. Like you said, your dog is still pretty young for a cleaning. It would be a fine time to start brushing though if you don't, it's a pain and seems indulgent but I've seen it save a huge amount of money in older animals. At our clinic a serious dental with major extractions can go above $800. Keep that from happening if you can.
posted by boobjob at 5:21 PM on January 27, 2011


The teeth shouldn't build calculus any faster as long as the vet polishes the tooth after. Without polish, yes they will appear to get dirty faster.
posted by Nickel Pickle at 6:13 PM on January 27, 2011

Some folks use these rubbery brushes that fit on your finger to brush their dogs teeth... Maybe if you could do that, you could slow down the necessity for needing your dog's teeth cleaned. They shouldn't damage the gum since they are very soft. My vet suggested them for my cat, but that didn't go over too well. So... I get her teeth cleaned at the vet every two years or so. I don't have a dog, but I'm imagining that a dog might like the attention and chewing on the rubbery brush... They also have flavored toothpastes at pet supply stores and the vet's office.
posted by Leah at 6:33 PM on January 27, 2011

Polishing the teeth makes them smoother, so plaque builds up less slowly. The more plaque is there already, the rougher the surface of the teeth, and the faster it'll keep building up. Dental cleaning and polishing makes gunk build up more slowly.

If you use dental instruments to pick at the teeth and DON'T polish afterwards, you leave the tooth surface scritched and it helps plaque build up faster. Don't use anything metal to scratch the teeth unless they're about to be polished right away.

Of course if you brush the teeth at home regularly, you clean off anything that's building up. But if it's already there and stuck on, don't scrape it off yourself with dental equipment, no.
posted by galadriel at 7:17 PM on January 27, 2011

So the cleaning part does take away smoothness, and it's the polishing (done after the cleaning) that makes them smooth again? Is that right?
posted by atm at 11:54 AM on January 29, 2011

posted by galadriel at 3:54 PM on January 29, 2011

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