I’ve noticed in recent years that more dog owners are aware of their dog’s dental health and are paying attention to the state of their teeth. Long gone are the days when owners thought it was normal for their older dog to have atrocious breath and green or yellow teeth!
When it comes to dental disease, prevention is better than treatment. An owner who regularly checks their dog’s teeth and who actively prevents dental disease truly benefits their pet.
Why do dog teeth turn yellow or green? [with pictures]
For the vast majority of dogs, their teeth become discolored due to dental disease. A film of bacteria (plaque) builds up on the teeth when they are not brushed and this mixes with saliva to calcify on the teeth, forming calculus.
Plaque is a film with a yellowy tinge while calculus is thick and solid and can be yellow, orange, green or brown.
This puppy is starting to develop very mild calculus buildup on their teeth which could be the result of poor genetics, a soft food diet and/or lack of tooth brushing.
This would be the ideal patient to start tooth brushing in. I’d also discuss with the owner the possibility of feeding kibble rather than soft food, to prevent the food particles caking onto the teeth.
With a solid dental hygiene plan, we may be able to reverse the dental disease from home.
Above we can see a mild to moderate buildup of plaque and calculus with some reddening of the gums (gingivitis). If we probe, we may find some small areas of gum recession.
This dog would benefit from a scale and polish going forward, so we can remove what has built up and start afresh with a good dental hygiene plan.
From home, the owner can help by tooth brushing each day and using products in the food and/or water to dissolve the plaque.
This dog’s dental disease is more advanced. We can see thicker accumulations of calculus, swollen gums and gum lines that are starting to visibly recede.
I’d want to book this dog in for a dental cleaning ASAP so we can remove the calculus and get a good look at the teeth underneath. He may be at the point where some extractions are needed.
Above is a case of severe and advanced dental disease. The teeth are hardly visible due to the extreme calculus build up. Underneath all of that, it is likely the gums have receded and that the tooth roots may even be visible.
Before a dental, we should start this patient on antibiotics to reduce the bacterial load in their mouth. We would anticipate that this patient may need quite a few teeth removed. They will feel so much better after this dental!
What is the normal teeth color of a dog?
This dog has gorgeous ‘pearly whites’. A dog should have white or light cream teeth with no brown or yellow deposits on top.
As well as this, their gums should be pink and there should be no red line alongside the teeth.
What will happen if I don’t do anything?
Plaque turns to calculus which results in tooth enamel damage, gum inflammation and subsequent pain.
Leaving dental disease untreated is a recipe for disaster. The teeth and gums will become more diseased, and we will start to see oral abscesses, bleeding, oral pain and a reduced appetite.
Dogs can struggle to eat due to nerve pain and gum inflammation. Bacteria can also pass into the body, causing significant infections.
Causes of green or yellow teeth in dogs
Poor dental hygiene
This is probably the number one cause of dental disease in dogs as many owners do not realize the importance of daily brushing. It is never too late to start brushing and owners should start with short sessions. Some dogs prefer a finger toothbrush and all dogs enjoy tasty beef tooth paste!
Giving certain antibiotics in early life (like Tetracycline) can cause the enamel to permanently discolor. Vets should not use these antibiotics in pregnant female dogs or young pups unless there is no other option. The tetracycline bonds with the tooth calcium and the tooth will be yellow or brown for the rest of the dog’s life; there is no treatment.
Due to general wear and tear, older dogs’ teeth can become discolored and stained. This is generally no cause for concern and is more of a cosmetic issue. It should not cause any pain and requires no treatment.
Remember, your dog’s genes play a large role in their dental health. Certain breeds including the Greyhound, Pug and Yorkie are more likely to develop green or yellow teeth regardless of what we do. This is sometimes due to dental overcrowding.
Owners with these breeds should pay more attention to their teeth and dedicate more time to oral hygiene whenever possible.
What to do to help your dog with green or yellow teeth
The first thing to try if your dog has mild plaque buildup, is to up your dental hygiene game. This should include daily tooth brushing and the use of plaque dissolving products.
If a suitable option for your dog, consider switching from a wet to a dry food. We should also offer dental sticks and treats like raw carrot and apple.
Remember, no at home care will treat established dental disease, and these dogs do need to see a vet for dental treatment in the clinic.
Treatment options and likely costs
Dental hygiene at home doesn’t cost much and you’ll save a huge amount of money on expensive dentals at the vets.
An annual stock of doggy toothbrushes and tooth paste should set you back little more than $50. Switching from soft treats to raw carrot or apple will likely save you money. Similarly, going from a wet to dry diet is usually cheaper.
Dentals at the vet can be very dear. This is especially true if the dog has advanced dental disease and needs multiple extractions as well as dental x-rays. The cost depends on a number of factors and can range anywhere from $300-$2,5000.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are green or yellow teeth a sign of a serious dental issue?
Sometimes, yellowing of the teeth can be a purely cosmetic issue or may be the result of antibiotics given in puppyhood. For most dogs though, it indicates dental disease, and it is important to schedule a vet check.
Are dental treats and chews effective in preventing green or yellow teeth?
They certainly play a role, yes. However, tooth brushing is the best way to keep teeth white.
My dog refuses to let me brush his teeth. What should I do?
You are not alone! I’d advise to try with a finger brush, and to bribe your dog with flavored toothpaste and tasty treats after each session. Keep sessions very short (a matter of seconds) initially to get dogs used to the odd sensation.
Not every dog will tolerate tooth brushing and these dogs do best on dry food diets.
If we cannot brush our dog’s teeth, they should have more regular oral checks at the vet.
Can green or yellow teeth cause my dog pain or discomfort?
While the discoloration causes no pain, the associated gingivitis and damage to the teeth can, yes.
Disclaimer: This website's content is not a substitute for veterinary care. Always consult with your veterinarian for healthcare decisions. Read More.