There are a lot of myths surrounding the care of a dog’s teeth.

A number of these myths are based around marketing campaigns led by pet food companies in order to sell products.

So, it’s important to recognize the truth when caring for your pooch’s teeth.

Here are some of the most common myths associated with oral care for dogs and cats/  Plus, learn what’s good, what’s bad and the health problems associated with ignoring your dog’s oral care.

I also did an article on the product that I use for my own dogs.  You can read more on that here.

1. Dry Food and Dog Treats Clean the Teeth

There’s not a dentist in the world that would tell you that crunching down on a bit of granola would clean your teeth. Much in the same way, nobody with any sense will tell you that having your dog crunch down on rawhide, dry dog food or crunchy pet treats will help clean your dog’s teeth.

While it’s true that soft or wet foods lead to more plaque buildup, it’s also true that dry dog foods DO NOT protect your pet’s mouth. Plaque can only be removed through proper dental hygiene and crunchy kibble just doesn’t cut it, especially near the gum line where it really matters.

2. Pet Dental Hygiene Isn’t Important

There is a belief out there that cleaning a dog’s teeth simply isn’t that important. But the American Veterinary Dental Society estimates that more than 80 percent of dogs will develop gum disease before the age of three.  This is important to know, especially since most dogs eat a dry dog food diet.  Put two and two together.  KIBBLE DOES NOT CLEAN YOUR DOG’S TEETH!

It’s estimated that about two-thirds of owners do not maintain their pets teeth.  Because plaque and tartar buildup can lead to such problems as gum disease, periodontal disease, gingivitis, and even abcesses, your pet can experience some serious mouth pain.

myths about how to clean your dog's teeth
3. Bad Breath Is a Signal That You’re Not Properly Caring for Your Dog’s Teeth

Again, your pet can experience some serious dental pain if the teeth aren’t taken care of properly. Halitosis (bad breath) may be a significant issue, but it’s really the least of the problems that can impact your dog’s mouth.

Dogs are particularly vulnerable to tooth fractures, for one. Any untreated fractures can develop into abcesses or can even decompose in the mouth. Dogs can also experience infections in the roots of teeth, which can loosen the tooth and actually erode the socket.

What’s more, bacteria can enter the body through abcessed teeth and open sores in the mouth. When this happens, dogs can develop heart problems and diabetes which can be extremely serious for your dog.

Don’t allow this to happen!

See our very own recipe for tooth and gum paste for dogs that delivers outstanding results! Recipe here

4. Gum Disease Has Obvious Symptoms

There are obvious symptoms associated with gum disease.  However, many pet owners simply don’t pay any attention to their dog’s teeth to notice gum disease.

This is troubling to me.  It literally takes minutes to check out your dog’s mouth and another few minutes to brush and care for his or her teeth.  If your dog is showing any of these symptoms, then chances are he most likely has periodontal issues or some other form of oral disease, which is the leading health problem facing dogs today.

Here’s what to look for:

  • Swollen gums
  • Bleeding gums
  • Discolored teeth
  • Broken teeth
  • Bad breath
  • Drooling
  • Abscesses

Pets have a survival instinct that can’t be denied, which means that they’ll eat even when they’re in significant pain.

So, don’t think that just because your dog or cat is eating that everything’s okay.  It breaks my heart when I see a dog suffering with oral decay.  I know how painful this is for the dog and the sad thing is, it doesn’t have to be.

You should routinely check the inside of your dog’s mouth.  You should lift the lips in the front and the back of the mouth and closely look at the molars in the back  and checking all the teeth moving from back to front.  Look closely at the molars and look for discoloration of brown, grey or black on any of the teeth.  Look for any lumps or abscesses.

Using tissue, lightly press on the gums closest to the tooth to see if any blood appears on the tissue.  This will tell if your dog has periodontal disease.  Keep in mind that it’s extremely unhealthy to swallow blood and if your dog has periodontal disease; he is swallowing blood.

Bottom Line

Ignore all the B.S. that kibble, dog treats, cookies and rawhide clean the teeth.  The only type of food that cleans a dog’s teeth is raw feeding.

But, please don’t go running to the supermarket for a package of raw meat, that’s not going to do the trick.  There’s a process involved in feeding raw, but dogs that eat this type of diet, naturally have beautiful teeth.

Don’t ignore your dog’s teeth.  Starting now, make a commitment to care for your best friend’s teeth on a regular basis.

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Showing 11 comments
  • Bev

    what do we brush their teeth with I find baking soda cleans the best but I would want to be able to flush out excess sodium by laying them down on their side. I was giving my little dog that mint gel and I think it made her sick but again it may of been the pest control that came into my apartment when I was gone and he wasn’t careful about where he sprayed. wish I would have changed the locks when I moved in. chemicals may not kill but they do make your pets sick.

    • janie

      Hi Bev:

      You CANNOT use mint gel toothpaste for humans on a dog, ever. No human toothpaste.

      Please see my article hear on how to clean your dog’s teeth naturally: Dog Teeth & Gum Paste. If her thyroid and adrenals are damaged, I would give her our thyroid glandular along with our Daily Multi which includes 13 other glandulars as well. Here’ the links:

      Daily Multi
      Thyroid Glandular

      Give coconut oil daily at 1/2 teaspoon with each meal.

      You MUST also feed her a healthy natural diet with lots of protein. You can use our cookbook for that Bev.

      I hope this helps.


  • Mona

    I have fed my 9 year old dogs a raw diet since they were 4 months old when I adopted them. I guess I am doing something wrong because they both have build up on their teeth. One had all of her front bottom teeth removed. They were always very crooked but didn’t know anything was wrong with them. She had an abscess so I gave her antibiotics then took her in to have x-rays to see if it was for sure her tooth. I took her in to get it extracted because they found a fracture. When I picked her up the vet had taken her bottom teeth out (without asking) and only sealed the upper back molar, hoping to save it I guess. Since then she has had to be on antibiotics twice because of swelling. We are scheduled to get it extracted in a week. I am assuming this is my only option. Any advice?

    • janie

      Hi Mona:

      Do you mind sharing what you’re including in the raw diet? Also any supplements, etc.?


  • Becca Holton

    I’m glad that misconception I’ve had the benefit of dry dog food got cleared. Recently, I adopted a dog and had a friend tell me that crunch treats will help clean my dog’s teeth. It’s nice to know that proper oral hygiene is the only way to deal with plaque buildup.

  • Tina Rigney

    I’m feeling so bad as my old Jack Russell Ella who is 16 yrs old has terrible teeth,bad breath,all due to my negligence of good oral hygiene ????. My vet says her heart sounds good and surgery is an option. She’s completely deaf and has lost some of her sight,she also can’t hold her urine. Do I put in for surgery,or just get some relief for her discomfort, only I can make this decision.
    Or very sadly I have another option ????
    I’ve left this comment to make fellow pet owners know that by not keeping a good dental care program can be not only distressing to your beloved pet,but to us personally, I’ve taken my beautiful girl regularly to the vet’s and now I am at a heartbreaking place , love my little lady with all my heart

    • janie

      Hi Tina:

      Does the vet feel she can handle the surgery? If so, I personally would do it. What is wrong with her vision? Cataracts?

      What do you feed your old girl and do you provide her with any supplements?


  • Marina

    Interesting and informative article! Good advice. My dog just had to have 19 teeth removed because of decay. Please everyone watch your dog’s teeth. Give them good chewy food and brush them.

  • James Bergman

    It makes sense that I should take care of my dogs teeth. It will be much worse for him if he looses his teeth than it would be for me. At least I can get dentures. It is sad that bones don’t clean his teeth like I thought they did, and I can’t afford to feed him a raw diet. I guess the only solution is for me to start brushing my dogs teeth. Any suggestions for how to start.

    • yourolddog

      Hi James:

      The only time bones really clean the teeth are like you mentioned, when you’re including a raw diet that includes raw bones. I use and recommend Triplesure. If you use it faithfully as instructed and give it a month, you should see a big difference.

      Hope this helps.


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