Gum disease is usually but not always related to the formation of tooth tartar. A popular belief is that tartar is caused by the lack of abrasive food to clean the teeth. Many people mistakenly believe that feeding dry pet food keeps the teeth clean. One need only look at the teeth of dogs and cats fed on dry food to realise that this is not so. (Does your own mouth feel clean after eating biscuits?) It is true that bone and hide and other hard food will help to clean the teeth but the real cause of tartar is an accumulation of waste matter in the body.
These wastes are dissolved in the body fluids including the saliva. When the saliva washes over the teeth much of this debris settles out and forms plaque which hardens to form tartar. There are now specialist veterinary diets which are intended to prevent tartar by creating an abrasive cleansing effect. This technique is unnecessary if the underlying cause i.e. the accumulation of waste products, is tackled properly. It is possible to avoid tartar and gum disease without the need for special diets or even for brushing the teeth by feeding Burns and following the Health Management Programme in the Dog Health & Nutrition Handbook. This works by eliminating waste from the system.