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.