Sunday, April 13, 2014

Bad Breath..Is it the Food, The Teeth, Or your Nose?

Charlie, my pup, and his excellent pearly white teeth.
When you are examining your pets teeth it is important to look at all of the teeth under the upper and lower lip from the tip of the nose to the far back of the mouth (past the back corner of the eye).
The teeth that tend to see the most damage and tartar are the canines and the back molars.

I have been answering questions on Here is one of the most common questions I get;

"My 3 yr old Pom has terrible breath, and has since I became his mommy 18 mos. ago. Will brushing his teeth, improve his breath, and remove the tarter on his teeth??? If so, what toothpaste do you recommend? Toothbrush or finger brush?"

A professional dental cleaning includes general anesthesia, digital oral x-rays,
scaling, polishing and any needed extractions.
Many clients get very upset with the number of extractions that a pet sometimes requires.
If the teeth are compromised they should be removed.
It is far better to remove them now then to have a pet go home with a bad tooth
and the need to return a few months later for another extraction.

Here is my  answer;

"In general bad breath is caused by bad teeth. And the smaller the breed of dog the faster and worse the teeth seem to get. 

Brushing certainly helps keep the teeth from getting caked with calculi and slows down things like gingivitis and gum recession, BUT, if the teeth are already diseased (as evident by having bad breath), then you probably need a professional dental cleaning with your vet before the brushing will be beneficial.

My best advice is to make an appointment with your vet to have them look at the teeth. They can tell you whether it is time for  dental cleaning, or whether the brushing is enough.

A few points to mention:
Brushing needs to be done daily (at least 4-5 times a week) for it to be beneficial. (Afterall we brush twice a day, AND it makes sense that our pet needs brushing daily).

It doesn't really matter how, or what you use to brush. As long as you are making contact with the outside of the teeth along the inner cheek. Dogs and cats tend to get the worst calculi on the canine teeth and back molars. I recommend gauze squares wrapped around the index finger and then brush/rub the outer surfaces of these teeth just inside the upper cheek..(I will post a video later on my blog with a I don't usually recommend any fancy products..and pets tend to want to chew your finger if you use toothpaste.

Another thing to discuss with your vet is the food you feed. The soft chewy foods tend to stick to teeth and accelerate the tartar/calculi gum disease process. The flip side is that hard food might help little bit in adding abrasion to the teeth surfaces and probably don't stick to the teeth as much as soft food, you still need to brush daily.

All of those products that are marketed to keep teeth clean (like chew sticks, water additives, chew toys, etc). help a little tiny bit,,,but in the big scheme of your pups 15 year life span they don't make enough of a difference to allow you to not brush.

Last note, unfortunately, I have seen 3 year old small breed dogs who need dentals. So, have your vet take a peek at their mouth. 

Best of luck,, and thanks for the question.

I hope this helps!

This molar (at the area of the bleeding, top maxilla furthest to the right, just in front of the finger),
 could only be assessed after we removed the thick layer of calculi.
The roots are exposed and the tooth requires extraction.
The tooth in front of it (to the left) is likely also compromised and likely needs extraction. 

A fractured PM4. Gum recession, and a diseased likely painful tooth.
Extraction is recommended.

If you have any pet related questions you can ask them for free at you can just visit us there and share your pet  photos, help others with pet questions, or create your own pet topic. Pawbly is a place where people who love pets help other pet people.

Or you can find me chirping away on Twitter @FreePetAdvice.

Or come visit me at the clinic, Jarrettsville Vet.

Here is an excellent blog on brushing teeth,

I have every intention of posting a video of my method. It's on my To-Do list, which, gets longer day after day.

Kisses from and to a race observer at the annual
Our Lady's Manor Races in Monkton MD. yesterday.

Laddie, a dear JVC friend models in front of our banner.

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