Just like people, animals accumulate tarter on their teeth over time. Unlike us they can’t prevent it without our help. If food, chew, bones and brushing alone aren’t enough then a full dental cleaning can be done. If tarter is allowed to accumulate, bacteria can get into the blood stream and go to other parts of the body creating infection. The tartar itself can damage the tooth and erode the gum and create pain and inflammation. In severe cases the tooth may even need to be removed. Obvious wobbly teeth and those without obvious gum coverage will need to come out but often there are inapparent problems that only radiographs can detect. The National Association of Veterinary Dentist is currently recommending a full set of mouth radiographs prior to a cleaning to see what else may need to be done.
We grade dental tartar and gingival involvement on a 1 to 4 scale. The smaller the number, the less that will need to be done. The higher the number, the more damage is likely present. A office visit or discussion during vaccination time can help you determine what is needed for your pet.
Often Small dogs will need dentals much more frequently than large dogs so additional care may help immensely.