Keeping your pooch perfectly groomed extends to his oral care. His teeth will stay pearly white if you brush them at least weekly, although daily is recommended. Maintaining healthy teeth for your dog keeps him healthy in general as tooth problems can lead to kidney, liver and heart issues.
Abrasives like silica in your dog's toothpaste are effective at scraping tartar away from his tooth surface. Just because silica is abrasive, though, doesn't mean that it will hurt your pup's mouth when you brush with a paste that contains it. Silica is gentle on your dog's teeth and gums as it polishes the tooth surface and scours away plaque and tartar.
Tetrapotassium phosphate is a chemical agent that is used as an emulsifier in many everyday things like cheese, ice cream and even cleaning compounds. It is the emulsifying action that makes it useful in dog toothpaste to break down and clean tartar away from your pooch's teeth.
If you've seen a dog toothpaste on the pet supply shelf that is "enzymatic" that means that enzymes like glucose oxidase, lactoperoxidase or both have been added to the paste to fight tartar. Even if just the oxidase is listed as an ingredient, you can be sure that it will reduce bacteria and tartar buildup in your dog's mouth. The addition of lactoperoxidase works with the glucose oxidase in a preventative role to keep microorganism growth in your pup's mouth at a minimum.
A Homemade Solution
The entire reason to purchase special toothpaste for your doggy's dental care is that human toothpaste can be toxic to your pooch. If you prefer going the homemade route, you can always mix together some baking soda, a small bit of salt and some water to form a paste that you can put on a soft tooth brush to scrub your dog's dental work. It won't have the enhanced flavor that a commercial dog toothpaste does so don't be surprised if he doesn't seem to enjoy it, but the gentle abrasiveness of the soda and salt will remove tartar from your dog's teeth.
Elle Di Jensen has been a writer and editor since 1990. She began working in the fitness industry in 1987, and her experience includes editing and publishing a workout manual. She has an extended family of pets, including special needs animals. Jensen attended Idaho and Boise State Universities. Her work has appeared in various print and online publications.