I spend most of my days talking to my friends and clients about this very thing. It's a common concern and yes, there's nothing except a dental cleaning with your veterinarian that will take that tartar away. Plaque forms tartar within 24 hrs. Tartar is cement like and harbors bacteria which microscopically, daily spread infection to destroy the teeth and shower to other internal organs. The kidneys and valves of the heart are most susceptible. To stop this vicious cycle, please see your veterinarian. At the west coast of the US some owners talk about non anesthetic dental cleanings, but that is scraping tartar off and 1. doesn't get at the gum line where most of the problem lies, 2. causes bleeding gums spreading more bacteria, 3. cannot really polish the teeth. Please note that polishing is one of the most important parts of a dental cleaning and needs to be thoroughly so as not to make the dental health worse. This is a main reason why anesthesia is needed for all dental cleanings in pets. When one cleans the cement like tartar off of the teeth, tiny scratches are placed on the surface of the tooth making a perfect substrate for tartar to reform faster than before. Polishing smooths those scratches out, and when combined with Oravet professional sealant, the teeth are so smooth, it's difficult for tartar to reform. It still will eventually form tartar, but the body will be much better off in the meantime. The next dental cleaning will correct this - just as it's important for you to see your human dentist regularly.
As for home care options, all of the options Dr. Jim recommended are good. I have some favorites as well that work well in my household. Just as I know myself and tell all of my clients, again, there is no home care option that will take away the tartar that is present. My favorite home care options that work best AFTER a thorough dental cleaning:
A. Daily Feeding
Using specially formulated pet foods such as Royal Canin (easier to find in the UK) Dental Diet can delay the build up of tartar. This diet works by keeping the special “fiber” kibble in contact with the tooth at the gum line to scrub away the plaque while the “tartar control” coating on the food works like tartar control toothpaste to reduce plaque when eaten. Most other dental diets have single methods for plaque reduction.
B. Good to Chew
The natural mechanical action of chewing is good to help delay plaque build up as well, but be aware: Not all treats are created equal. Research shows VOHC approved CET Veggie Dents work 4-8 times better than other non VOHC dental chews on the market. They are fully digestible and would dissolve in just a glass of water, preventing problems if your pet decides to swallow the treat instead of chewing. For cats, give 10-15 Tartar Shield Cat Treats per day, - they’re only ONE calorie a piece and prevent tartar build up by over 40%!
C. Better to Rinse
Oxyfresh rinses and gels reduce plaque as well as freshen the breath. Just add the colorless rinse to your pet’s water. There is no taste and you get the benefits of improved breath! For the gel, a pea-sized drop on your finger or swab will be enough to treat an adult cat. For small dogs, use slightly more. Simply rub the gel briefly over the gums above the molars. Treatment can also be done by directly applying the gel from the bottle (best for larger dogs).
D. Best to Brush
Of course, just as it is for us, tooth brushing is the best method of ensuring that our pets will enjoy good dental health. DAILY brushing with C.E.T. poultry flavor toothpastes provides the best in home dental care for your pet. C.E.T. toothpastes are specifically formulated to be safe, effective, and appealing to your dog or cat, and “unlike” people toothpastes, are meant to be swallowed. Some clients place the toothpaste on a blue Kong or low calorie cat treat and allow the pet to brush with treats each day. While this is not as good as brushing with a finger toothbrush, it is still helpful.
For those of you that find daily brushing forgotten, OraVet sealant is the way to go. After a dental cleaning, a thorough sealant is applied under anesthesia. Home re-application is done in 2 minutes each WEEK. Your first home application lesson is complimentary. OraVet is equal to daily brushing in it's effectiveness at preventing plaque and tartar.
A COMBINATION of the above options is the best approach for home dental care. Routine dental care will ensure a healthier and happier life for your pet.
I hope this helps!
Many dogs don't like eating hard things. And I've had my share of dogs that hide or bury rawhides etc. So that is not unusual.
Hill's Prescription Diets make a special food that cleans teeth with each bite for dogs just like this. You should ask your veterinarian about this. Also home care like brushing or treatments like Oravet are good things you can do yourself. However,as you know, all of that can not be effective on teeth with tartar already formed and adhered to the teeth.
So an initial dental cleaning by a veterinarian with the dog under sedation must be done, then you can do prevention and other home care steps yourself.
As for your "expensive complete dog food" it is my guess it is a good quality food and therefore...my comment... you most likely don't need to be supplementing with fresh chicken every day. That is probably adding too much protein to the balance in that diet. Hence unnecessary and nutritionally incorrect.
Please ask your veterinarian about this also when you get the dental done. Good Luck.