Small Dogs And Dental Disease
We are told from a young age to brush our teeth twice a day and at least for two minutes. Although we know that good oral hygiene is essential to preventing tooth loss and gum disease in people, many of us do not consider that dental issues can affect our pets.
Dental disease is a widespread problem among dogs, affecting many of our beloved pets' health. Small dogs are especially susceptible to dental disease. In fact, the incidence of periodontal disease in small dogs is five times higher than it is in large dogs. This is due to their facial features, the shape of their mouths and heads, and other genetic traits.
Proactively supporting good dental health in your small-breed dog can ensure his overall wellness and longevity.
Why Are Small Dogs At Higher Risk For Dental Diseases?
A multitude of factors can contribute to dental problems in smaller-breed dogs.
Some dogs have larger teeth in proportion to the size of their mouth, which can lead to an increased build-up of plaque and subsequent gum inflammation.
The roots of large teeth can take up so much space in a dog's jaw that the bone becomes weak and prone to fracture. This is especially true for small and toy-breed dogs who have smaller mouths and weaker jaws.
Most dogs have 42 permanent teeth, but their tooth size is not always proportional to the size of the animal. In fact, small breed dogs often have teeth that are too large for their mouths leading to overcrowding. Food particles and plaque bacteria can accumulate in crowded spaces, which further increases the risk of gum disease and tooth decay.
Retained Baby (puppy) Teeth
While most puppies lose their baby teeth by the time they are 14 weeks old, small-breed dogs tend to retain some of those teeth. If left untreated, this can lead to teeth overcrowding—a condition in which the retained puppy tooth sabotages the health of an adult tooth trying to replace it.
If a dog's adult teeth fail to grow in, the unerupted tooth is buried under the gumline and may eventually form a cyst. If left untreated, an unerupted tooth and cyst can cause a lot of pain and swelling. Such conditions are more common among flat-faced dog breeds—for instance, pugs.
How To Help Prevent Dental Issues In Small Dogs
Dental Care At Home: Home dental care, if done consistently, can be an effective way to achieve plaque removal. The greatest benefits come from regular tooth brushing – in other words, the mechanical action of disrupting (wiping away) the biofilm that forms on teeth ultimately helps prevent cavities and gum disease.
Veterinary dental care: Regular professional dental cleanings under general anesthesia can be extremely helpful. Most dental problems are found below the gum line, so not probing under the gums or taking x-rays when cleaning teeth will miss many issues.
While keeping any dog's teeth and gums healthy is essential, small dogs' unique physical attributes mean they are at a greater risk for oral conditions such as tooth decay and may need extra dental attention.
City Vet Will Give Your Pet The Brightest Smile!
City Vet will make your pet's smile the brightest in Long Island City and Roosevelt Island. Our team enjoys removing plaque and tartar from pets' teeth to reveal a beautiful smile—and we make sure their breath is fresh, too! Contact us today to schedule your pet's dental cleaning appointment.