How to Treat a Jack Russell Terrier’s Teeth Problems

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Dental diseases are common among JRTs (Jack Russell Terriers). According to the HCV Clinic, JRTs are more susceptible to dental diseases than other dogs.

Therefore, it’s critically important to take care of your pet’s dental hygiene. In this article, I’ll discuss how to treat a Jack Russell Terrier’s teeth problems to keep it healthy and happy.

How to Treat a Jack Russell Terrier’s Teeth Problems

Here’s a list of common teeth problems in Jack Russell Terriers, along with their solutions.

Graphic image of a Jack Russell and a toothbrush with a text explaining how to minimize the teeth problems for Jack Russell Terriers

Plaque and Tartar Buildup

Most dental diseases start with the buildup of plaque and tartar. It can lead to painful infection of teeth roots, and gums. Plaque is a whitish substance that develops on teeth close to gums, and it consists of bacteria.

It gives a bad smell that worsens with time, and it can lead to gum irritation and tooth decay. If it stays on teeth for more than 48 hours, it becomes harder and turns into tartar, which is a light brown or yellow-colored biofilm.

The main symptoms of plaque and tartar build-up on a Jack Russell Terrier’s teeth include bad smell, swollen gums, yellow or brown deposits on teeth, and bleeding gums in worse conditions.


The easiest and most effective way to remove plaque and tartar buildup from your dog’s mouth is to brush its teeth daily. Make sure that you use a dog-safe toothbrush to keep your furry friend’s mouth and teeth healthy.

Important Note: If you notice bleeding gums, visit the vet as soon as possible to treat the problem medically.

Periodontal Disease

If your Jack Russell Terrier is losing its teeth and it’s older than one year, it’s probably due to periodontal disease. It’s one of the most common dental diseases in dogs, including JRTs. According to a study, about 80 percent of dogs experience this health problem in the United States.

A close-up up image of a Jack Russell Terrier showing opening its mouth and its teeth

The word periodontal refers to the area of jawbone and gums surrounding a tooth. When bacteria reach the bone area, holding the tooth, through gums, it causes gingivitis.

If it goes unnoticed, bacteria start to damage soft tissues and bone around the tooth. As a result, a pocket develops around the affected tooth, and it falls out.


You can’t treat periodontal disease at home. So, you’ll need to visit a professional vet who will clean your dog’s teeth and remove plaque and tartar.

Oral Infections

Plaque and tartar can also cause oral infections in your Jack Russell Terrier’s mouth. Sometimes it leads to tooth abscess, a pocket of pus. The most common symptom of this infection is a noticeably swollen jaw.

In such a case, you’ll see a visible lump on the upper jaw under the eye or on the lower jaw right above the neck. Keep in mind that the most common reason behind oral infections is periodontal disease.

However, they can also happen if your dog hurts its gums while trying to chew something hard and pointy.


If your pup has unbearably smelly breath or swelling on the jaw, it might be suffering from an oral infection. A vet will prescribe antibiotics and painkillers to control the infection. If there’s an underlying tooth injury, the vet will arrange surgery to treat that.

An image of a Jack Russell terrier opening its mouth

Fractured Tooth

Just like all other dogs, Jack Russell Terriers are powerful chewers. They like to chew on different things, including hard objects like hard plastic and bones that can fracture their teeth.

Dog chews can also cause the same problem if they’re big. That’s because it can line up at an angle with the tooth that splits the tooth’s pointy edge. This phenomenon is called slab fracture.

That’s why you should choose small dog chews that your JRT can easily chew. However, it must be big enough to keep your pup from swallowing it whole accidentally.


In case of a fractured tooth, you’ll need to visit a vet. There are two treatment options that vets usually recommend, including extraction and root canal therapy. The first option is selected when the tooth’s root is exposed.

Retained Baby Teeth

All Jack Russell Terriers have baby teeth (deciduous teeth). Normally, these teeth last until your pup is 12 to 16 weeks old, and they should automatically fall out after that.

However, it’s possible that some of your dog’s baby teeth don’t fall out, but their adult teeth grow in. Not only will it overcrowd your furry friend’s mouth, but it can also be very painful.

Additionally, it’ll make it difficult for you to clean your dog’s teeth properly, and plaque and tartar will start to grow.


You can go to your vet to get your dog’s baby teeth removed. If you’re also planning to get your pup neutered, I recommend you arrange the baby teeth removal and neuter surgery on the same day.

This way, your vet will need to give your JRT general anesthesia once, and your dog won’t need to experience after-surgery pain multiple times.

Common Symptoms of Dental Disease in Dogs

Jack Russell Terriers can become aggressive, stressed out, and anxious and they usually express their pain by barking excessively.

But some of them are good at hiding mouth pain until it becomes out of control. Therefore, it’s important to know the common symptoms of dental diseases in JRTs.

If your pup suffers from a tooth problem, it can show one or more of the following signs.

  • Eating less food than usual or experiencing issues picking up food
  • Gradual loss of interest in playful activities, especially chewing toys
  • Unbearably bad breath
  • Yellow or brown substance on teeth
  • Pawing or rubbing their mouth
  • Reluctant to run and exercise
  • Grumpy temperament
  • Crying or panting
  • Low posture
  • Flattened ears
  • Shaking
  • Showing reluctance if you try to inspect the mouth
  • Salivating more than usual
  • Blood sign in food or water bowl
  • Swollen or red gums
  • Missing a tooth or more
  • Bleeding or lumps around the mouth
  • Swelling under the eye or above the neck

Remember that dental problems can be extremely painful, and it can lead to loss of tooth/teeth if left untreated. So, if you notice any of these symptoms, take your JRT to the vet immediately to check it.

A close-up image of a Jack Russell terrier's teeth

Frequently Asked Questions

The following are some of the most frequently asked questions about treating Jack Russell Terrier’s teeth problems.

How Do You Ensure Oral Well-Being of a Jack Russell Terrier?

The best way to ensure the oral well-being of a Jack Russell Terrier is to brush its teeth. You can also offer your dog dental chews, which are specially designed to clean your dog’s teeth. Plus, they’ll also keep your JRT happy.

How Often Should You Brush Your Jack Russell Terrier’s Teeth?

Ideally, you should brush your Jack Russell Terrier’s teeth daily but doing so thrice or even twice a week will be beneficial. It’ll prevent plaque and tartar from building up and minimize the risk of dental problems.

Do Jack Russell Terriers have More Dental Problems?

Yes, Jack Russell Terriers have more dental problems because of their small size. A study analyzed the records of more than three million dogs and confirmed that small dogs have more teeth problems than large dogs. Experts suggest that it happens because of the anatomy of their faces, heads, and mouths.

Final Words

Jack Russell Terriers are a highly energetic and smart dog breed. These dogs have small mouths, which can get overcrowded with teeth, leading to the buildup of plaque and tartar.

If this tooth problem is left unnoticed, it can cause oral infections and even tooth decay in the worst cases.

The best way to minimize the risk of teeth problems in your Jack Russell Terrier is to brush its teeth regularly to keep it healthy and happy.