Well known for being cute and cuddly, small dogs are becoming more and more popular. While their day-to-day needs might require relatively less attention than a larger, more active breed, their oral care requirements are often much more complex.
Smaller dogs often have significantly shorter muzzles in comparison to the traditional canine model. With less space in the mouth, many teeth end up being crowded, rotated or absent all together. Crowding contributes significantly to the development of severe periodontal disease; this often starts at a very young age! Rotation of teeth alters normal function, where the teeth do not get cleaned through normal abraison by the toungue and through regular chewing. This results in plaque and tartar accumulation, which contributes to dental disease. Crowding in the mouth allows for plaque and bacteria to ‘hide’ and develop in crevices and other small spaces. It collects around the gum line and releases toxins which can destroy sensitive dental tissues with inflammation.
Another condition we commonly see in small dogs is retained baby teeth, otherwise known as deciduous teeth. This, too, causes many different issues that contribute to dental disease. First, if they are still present beyond when the adult teeth come in, they can disrupt the normal tooth position. This can cause rotation or abnormal angling of the permanent teeth, which can result in teeth colliding with the gums or other teeth; this can be extremely painful. As well, when the retained baby tooth crowds the adult permanent teeth, this provides another ideal place for plaque and tartar develop underneath the gumline.
With early attention to dental health by your veterinarian, and astute at-home care, small breed dogs can lead normal healthy lives with great dental health. This includes regular at-home toothbrushing and professional dental cleanings at the veterinarians office. Call us today to book your FREE dental exam!