How to Soften & Remove Plaque from Dog's Teeth

A close-up image of a concerned-looking golden retriever receiving a comforting hug from a person wearing blue scrubs, likely a veterinarian. The focus is on the dog's expressive brown eyes, with the caregiver's arms gently wrapped around the dog, providing reassurance and support.

If attention is not given to your dog's dental health, plaque can build up on your dog's gums and teeth. And while some plaque is normal — it protects your dog's teeth from bacteria and keeps them healthy — too much plaque can lead to gum disease. If you want to make sure your pooch doesn't suffer from health issues associated with gum disease, here are three reasons why you should remove plaque from his mouth. 

1. Bad Breath

Bad breath isn't just unpleasant it can actually be dangerous. When plaque builds up in your dog's mouth, it creates an environment where harmful bacteria thrive. These germs cause bad breath because they produce volatile sulfur compounds that irritate the gums. In addition, plaque provides a surface for food particles to stick to, causing further bacterial growth.

2. Gum Disease

Gum disease causes inflammation and infection in your dog's gums. Over time, it can destroy bone and tissue around the teeth, making them loose and eventually fall out. Plus, it makes it harder to chew, leading to pain and discomfort.

3. Periodontal disease

Periodontal disease is a condition where bacteria attack the tissues around teeth. This causes gum tissue to become inflamed and infected. Left untreated, the infection can spread deeper into the tooth socket causing it to loosen and eventually fall out.

A close-up image of a dog's mouth displaying signs of periodontal disease, including inflamed gums, tartar buildup, and dental issues. The image underscores the importance of canine dental care and oral health.

The most common form of periodontal disease is called gingivitis. Gingivitis is caused by plaque accumulation on the gums, which is a bacterial film of food debris. Good oral hygiene habits such as brushing and regular tooth-cleaning can help minimize formation of plaque and reduce the risk of gingivitis. But even if you do everything right, some people still develop gingivitis.

4. Tooth Decay

A long term build up of plaque in your dog can cause tooth decay. This happens when bacteria get trapped between the enamel of your dog's teeth and start eating away at the protective layer. Eventually, this will weaken the enamel and allow bacteria to enter the pulp cavity of your dog's teeth, which leads to tooth loss.

Plaque vs. tartar

The difference between plaque and tartar is pretty simple. While both are deposits found on your dog's teeth, plaque is soft and sticky, whereas tartar is hard and chalky. This means that once tartar starts to form on your dogs teeth, it can be much harder to remove and may require veterinary intervention to remove it. If left untreated, tartar can become so thick that it begins to erode the enamel of your dogs' teeth. This can lead to painful infections, gingivitis, periodontal disease and even tooth loss.

How to remove plaque and tartar from your dog's teeth

A close-up view of a dog's open mouth, showcasing clean white teeth and a healthy pink tongue. The focus is on the dog's dental health, with clear visibility of the teeth and gums, indicating good oral hygiene.

Having a good dental routine for your dog is the best way to ensure that plaque and tartar does not build up and cause dental disease and other harmful health implications. Here are some helpful tips and tricks that you can try to build into your dog's routine:

Brush your dog's teeth

Brushing your dog's teeth is one of the easiest ways to maintain good oral hygiene. And while some dogs are happy to sit still and let you brush their teeth, others don't appreciate having their teeth brushed. So what's the best way to make sure your dog keeps his mouth clean? Here are some tips to help you out:

  1. Try to implement daily brushing or even twice per day, especially is there is a heavy build of plaque or tartar. This is especially important during the summer months when dogs tend to eat and drink more, which can lead to increased plaque and tartar build up.
  2. Use a soft toothbrush. You want to use a toothbrush that doesn't scratch your dog's gums. Look for a softer bristled brush. It is also advisable to avoid human toothpaste and use products that are specifically for dogs.
  3. Start early. Most dogs start to develop plaque and tartar buildup around six months old. By starting a young age, you'll be able to catch problems before they become serious.
  4. Be gentle. When brushing your dog's teeth, avoid pulling on his lips. Instead, gently stroke your finger along his upper jawline. Your dog shouldn't feel pain.
  5. Rinse thoroughly. After brushing your dog's teeth and rinsing off excess saliva, pat dry. Never rub your dog's tongue to remove dried spit. Doing so could cause irritation

This image is an infographic detailing the areas of a dog’s mouth prone to plaque buildup. On the left, a list of key points reads: “Incisors need extra brushing, as they miss out on bone-cleaning action. Plaque loves to linger along the gumline. Molars and premolars trap food, so plaque builds up. Behind the canines are plaque hotspots.” On the right, a diagram of a dog’s mouth is displayed with labeled parts: Incisors, Canines, Premolars, and Molars, on both the upper and lower jaws. The areas prone to plaque are highlighted. The background is white, with black text and colorful illustrations to distinguish each tooth type. The infographic is informative and visually guides pet owners on where to focus dental care efforts.


A good chewing toy can help keep your pet’s teeth clean and healthy. Chewing toys should be chosen based on the size and texture of the toy. A dental chew is a type pet treat that is designed to help clean your dog's teeth and can come in many different shapes and sizes. They are usually made of rubber, plastic or nylon. Depending on the shape and texture, they can help remove plaque and tartar from teeth. Many dental chew products and dental treats that are on the market currently out there that promise to ensure your dog has pearly white teeth, better breath, and even improved oral health. However, many of these come with their own set of drawbacks. They can contain artificial sweeteners, artificial colors, and other potentially harmful chemicals. Some of these also use expensive sugar alcohols, which can cause gastrointestinal problems. And some don't actually do anything for your dog's teeth, relying solely on the mechanical action of chewing to address plaque buildup. Chewing bones are also a good way to keep your dogs teeth clean and provide better overall dental care.

A golden retriever is intently biting on a thick, knotted rope toy. The focus is on the dog's face and the rope, highlighting the action of chewing which is beneficial for dental health. The dog's eyes are expressive, suggesting concentration and enjoyment in the activity.

Chewing bones for dog's dental health

Letting your dog chew on a raw bone can help to keep their teeth clean and healthy. Chewing on bones helps to stimulate salivation, which removes food particles stuck between teeth. Dogs that chew on bones often have fewer cavities than those who don't. Chewing on raw bones can also help to break down plaque and tartar build up due the abrasion caused by the chewing and biting of the cartilage, meat and bone. In addition to helping with dental cleaning, bones are also an excellent source of calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, and vitamin D. And the minerals found in bones are essential for maintaining strong teeth and gums.

Health Supplements

There are a range of supplements on the market that have been shown to reduce plaque and tartar build up as well as freshening breath and providing overall health benefits to your dog's dental health. Seaweed supplements like for example, Canident, have been shown to deliver excellent results for plaque and tartar removal. The seaweeds in this product contain anti-microbial properties that work systemically within the dog's system, to help loosen plaque and tartar. It's important to use abrasion, like raw bones or chews to help remove the loosened plaque. Seaweed also has the added benefit of containing many other nutrients that can be beneficial to your dog's overall health.   

Promotional banner for CANIDENT, a dental health product for dogs. The banner has a light background with blue wave patterns on the top and bottom edges. On the left side, there's a stylized drawing of a white dog silhouette with the brand name 'CANIDENT' in bold black letters. The right side of the banner features a photo of the Canident product, a cylindrical brown container with a label showing a happy dog. Next to the container, there are three blue bullet points highlighting the benefits of the product: 'Reduce tartar,' 'Improve gum health,' and 'Freshen breath.

Limit table scraps and sugary food and treats

Just like humans, too much sugary or unhealthy food is not good for your dog's overall health or his dental hygiene. Feeding your dog sugary treats or food that is not suitable for dogs, like table scraps , can contribute to plaque and tartar build-up. If you feed your dog table scraps, make sure it is only high quality, fresh foods such as chicken, fish, beef, lamb, eggs, vegetables, fruits and other natural ingredients. Avoid feeding your dog processed meats, cheese, ice cream, candy bars, cookies, cakes, pastries, bread, pasta, crackers, chips, potato. The best advise is to avoid sugary food or table scraps completely. But if your dog does get access to these foods, make sure they are only offered small amounts at a time. Also, make sure to give your dog water after eating. Water will help flush any remaining sugars from their system.


Dental health for dogs isn't always something people consider when they're buying a puppy, but it's one of the biggest health problems faced by dogs today. Because of that, many owners don't realize how serious it can be. While some cases are minor, others require professional intervention. If your dog is experiencing toothache, gum irritation, or terrible breath, it may be a sign that tartar is building up. This can cause bacteria to grow in cavities, leading to infection and inflammation. In extreme cases, this can lead to abscesses, infections, and even loss of teeth. It may even be necessary to attend a veterinary clinic to a professional cleaning.

However, by following some of the simple steps in this article and implementing a good dental hygiene routine, you can not only have a pooch with fresh breath, but one that will live a much happier and healthy life.

A cheerful, small, tan-furred dog with a wide smile is in focus in the foreground, looking healthy and happy. In the blurry background, a veterinarian in green scrubs and a surgical mask gives a thumbs up, indicating a successful check-up or treatment. The setting suggests a positive veterinary care experience.