Does Kibble Clean Your Dog’s Teeth? Find Out!


Have you ever heard someone say dry and crunchy kibble helps to clean a dog’s teeth? As I continue to share what I feed my dogs, I’ve heard a few people say they won’t switch to fresh food because they believe it’s not as good for their dog’s teeth. The idea behind this popular notion is that crunching down on kibble will naturally scrape the teeth clean. But, I only have one thing to say: It’s simply not true. 


First, Some Stats To Think About

An estimated 80 to 90 percent of pet dogs are fed processed dry food/kibble. 

Now get this … 

According to VCA Hospitals, “Dental disease is one of the most common medical conditions seen by veterinarians. Over 80% of dogs over the age of three have active dental disease.”

Hmmm … doesn’t sound like kibble is doing a great job cleaning teeth!


Here’s the Reality

Regular dry kibble doesn’t clean your dog’s teeth any more than cereal, pretzels, or potato chips clean yours.

When your dog eats regular kibble, tiny food particles are left behind and stick to their teeth. Plus, most kibble is high in starch and fillers that break down into sugar. Unless brushed away, those leftover food particles mix with bacteria in the mouth, collect along the gumline, and cause plaque to form. 

According to VCA Hospitals, plaque forms within just a few hours after eating a meal. And within 24 hours, that plaque begins to harden. As gummy plaque accumulates, mineralizes, and hardens, it becomes tartar. 

Forming above and below the gumline, tartar irritates the gums and can lead to inflammation (AKA gingivitis). Swollen, red, and even bleeding gums aren’t normal! This all causes some pretty stinky dog breath and can leave your pooch in a lot of pain. Eventually, a pup’s teeth can rot, loosen, and fall out. 

Plus, all that bacteria can enter the bloodstream, ultimately affecting the heart and other organs. 


Tips To Promote Better Dental Health

A Better Diet For Teeth

When it comes to a dog’s diet, the less processing = the better. Instead, focus on feeding your canine kid whole foods – fresh meats, fish, and vegetables. Foods loaded with antioxidants, fatty acids, and probiotics are all beneficial to a dog’s dental health.


Raw Bones

Consider giving your dog raw, meaty bones (never cooked bones – they’re too brittle and can splinter). Gnawing away on a fresh bone is a great way to scrape the teeth and help prevent plaque and tartar accumulation. Of course, it’s important to know your dog’s chew style. There are a variety of bone types and sizes on the market – evaluate what’s right for your pup and consult with your vet if you have any questions or concerns. 

Please note: Rawhides are not raw, meaty bones and I recommend avoiding them. These chemical-laden bones are linked to choking, airway obstruction, esophageal blockages, and intestinal blockages (among other things).

Regular Toothbrushing

Daily toothbrushing is one of the best ways you can keep your pup’s teeth pearly white! It’s not time-consuming. In fact, I brush my dogs’ teeth every single night before bed, right after I brush my own. 

You’ll need dog-formulated toothpaste and a doggy toothbrush. 

Start by adding a little pet-formulated toothpaste to your pup’s toothbrush. Lift your dog’s lip to expose the outside surfaces of his gums and teeth. Resting the brush on his teeth, make gentle, small, circular motions (similar to how you would brush your own teeth).

Along with brushing the front teeth, make sure to get your dog’s back teeth since those are the ones they use the most when eating and are the dirtiest. When you’re brushing, focus on the outsides of your pet’s teeth — that’s where the most tartar and plaque build-up. 

When you first start brushing your dog’s teeth, don’t rush the process. If he’s only comfortable with getting a few teeth brushed at a time then only brush a few at a time! You can always break your brushing into sessions — cleaning a few in the morning and a few at night.

Toothbrushing Toys

There are several brands that make toothbrushing toys. They’re simple yet effective rubber toys that, depending on the exact toy, either feature varying sized spikes or deep grooves that brush against your dog’s teeth and gums as he chews and slobbers on it. They’re meant to help grind off any plaque or tartar that’s accumulated on your pup’s teeth. You can also rub a little dog formulated toothpaste onto these toys to bump up the benefits.

Note: While toothbrushing toys are made out of durable rubber, no dog toy is completely indestructible. Supervise Fido when playing with this type of toy and put it away when he’s done gnawing.

Annual Dental Exams

Along with routine at-home dental care, it’s also beneficial to schedule an annual dental exam with your veterinarian. Depending on how much plaque or tartar is on your pup’s teeth, your vet may recommend professional cleaning. While these cleanings may be expensive, if you ask me, they’re totally worth it.


Dog Breeds Prone To Dental Problems 

  • Chihuahuas
  • Chinese Crested
  • Poodles
  • Maltese
  • Yorkshire Terriers
  • Pomeranians
  • Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
  • Shelties
  • Papillion
  • Greyhounds
  • Dachshund
  • Pugs

While some dog breeds are more prone to dental issues than others, it’s important to regularly clean your furkid’s teeth regardless!