Why Does Tartar Seem to Accumulate Faster After a Dental Cleaning in Dogs and Cats

Why does tartar seem to accumulate after a dental cleaning in dogs and cats?  Before the cleaning, it took several years to form. After the dental, it returns in several months.

The answer is age. As dogs and cats age, they experience several changes that accelerate the formation of dental calculus and disease, namely decreased flow of saliva and immunity in the mouth. On top of that, damage accumulates from prior years. Even the most thorough scaling and polishing cannot undo all the damage that was done. Rough surfaces give bacterial in the biofilm of the mouth a perfect place to stick.

The key to prevent recurrence of periodontal disease is consistent home care. Daily teeth brushing is the cornerstone. If your pet resists the brush like mine do, I recommend C.E.T oral hygiene rinse swabbed along the gum line. Even my feral cat, Kalani, will allow me to swab his gums. When he comes to me for attention, I get him purring then lay him on his side. I gently open his mouth and swab his gum line then repeat the process on his other side.

According to a veterinary dentist, Steve Holmstrom, DVM, DAVDC, the biofilm (bacteria) accumulates on teeth in 20 minutes after a scaling and polishing. Soft plaque develops in 6 to 8 hours. If left alone, the soft plaque calcifies into tartar in 3 to 5 days. The reason why plaque and tartar accumulate on teeth is that the surface does not slough. The epithelial cells that form the surface of gums slough regularly.

Despite the above issues, it is still vital to get regular dental cleanings for your pets.  Dental pain is very severe and anything we can do to prevent periodontal diease, tooth loss and maintain gum health is part of truly loving our pets.  Just as with humans, staying on top of dental health is a major element of assisting the entire health of our furry friends.

Published by kristennelsondvm

Dr. Kristen Nelson grew up on a farm in Watertown, Minn., where she developed a deep love for animals of all kinds. She received a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from the University of Minnesota, College of Veterinary Medicine. Kris then completed a small-animal internship at the prestigious Animal Medical Center in New York City. In addition to writing and speaking, she cares for small and exotic animals in Scottsdale, Az. Dr. Nelson is widely quoted in the media. Her credits include Ladies’ Home Journal, USA TODAY, the Los Angeles Times and numerous radio and television interviews. Dr. Nelson has written two books, Coated With Fur: A Vet’s Life and Coated With Fur: A Blind Cat’s Love. Kris and her husband Steve share their home with rescued cats, birds and a dog.