Yorkie Dental Health

Dental Health and Your Dog

Where it Starts Dental disease begins when bacteria turns into plaque that sticks to the surface of the teeth. Minerals in the saliva harden the plaque into tartar which spreads under the gum line. Bacteria under the gum line secrete toxins that contribute to tissue damage. Dental disease has many causes. Diet is a huge component, but it’s not the only component genetics, inflammation, infections, medications, and a lack of dental care may also be contributing to its development. Diet and nutrition choices are paramount to overall health, including dental health. 

What Is Your Dog Eating  Although it’s a common myth that kibble is good for dental health, this is just a myth. Most kibble is too small to do any good. There’s just not enough chewing going on. Feeding kibble doesn’t promote cleaner teeth at the gum line, where it matters. Many believe that a raw food diet contains natural enzymes that help resist bacterial plaque. Many veterinarians and pet owners have seen healthier teeth and gums in dogs eating raw food diets and raw meaty bones. Many believe that a raw food diet contains natural enzymes that help resist bacterial plaque. Many veterinarians and pet owners have seen healthier teeth and gums in dogs eating raw food diets and raw meaty bones. Raw meaty bones provide an active chewing and gum-cleaning advantage. NEVER GIVE YOUR DOG cooked bones that are brittle and can splinter when chewed.  Cooked bones come with the risk of damage to the tissues in the intestinal tract.

The image on the left shows the teeth of a raw-fed dog. On the right is the same dog after being fed a popular vet-recommended kibble for 17 days. The difference is staggering. (Note: the dog’s teeth returned to a healthy state after returning to a raw diet). By far, the most common cause of canine dental disease is diet. Unfortunately, the theory that dry food helps clean teeth is a well-established and accepted myth. The truth is that dry food dental decay. This is because carbohydrates are a major component of most commercial kibbles. These carbs break down into sugars and those sugars stick to the teeth. Hello, dental disease.

Symptoms of Dental Disease What are the symptoms of dental disease? If your dog has one or more of these issues, he may be suffering from dental disease: Bad breath, Bleeding gums, bad odor from the mouth, Visible plaque and tartar, Tilting the head to one side when chewing, Loose teeth, Loss of teeth, Unwillingness to eat/difficulty eating, Unwillingness to chew hard objects, Crying out in pain, Red, inflamed gums or bleeding at the gum line.

The Importance of Canine Dental Care Dental issues and dental disease don't just affect the teeth. Dental issues can lead to other serious health issues:

For humans, dental care is an important part of our daily hygiene routine. So why wouldn’t we provide the same care to our dogs’ teeth? Diet, raw bones, brushing, and natural at-home dental care can go a long way. Dental rinses, Dental sprays, Dental drops, Water additives, Dental chews, Regular teeth brushing with a dog-approved toothpaste and toothbrush, Raw food diet, Raw bones, Annual teeth cleanings, and Provide toothbrushes for chewing and teething puppies. Small Breed and toy dogs are very prone to deciduous teeth as adult teeth grow in at the same time. As with all other dogs, Yorkies have two sets of teeth in their life. The first set of teeth is the 28-piece deciduous teeth (often referred to as "milk teeth", "baby teeth" or "puppy teeth"). The second set is the 42-piece permanent or adult teeth. Sometimes the number of permanent or adult teeth may vary, which is fine as long as they do not cause a bad bite. When puppies are born, they have no teeth because milk is the only food they need. The deciduous teeth will grow from the age of 3 to 8 weeks old, in the order of incisors, canine/ fangs, and premolars. Yorkie puppies have no molar teeth. Yorkie puppies will start to lose their deciduous or baby teeth when the permanent or adult teeth come in. The permanent or adult grows when the Yorkie puppies are 4 to 8 months old. By around 8 months old, those teeth should fully develop. The permanent or adult teeth will grow in the order of incisors, canine/fangs, premolars, and molars. Molar teeth will develop at around 6 to 8 months old. Yorkies and other small dog breeds may have problems if the deciduous or baby teeth do not fall out as the permanent or adult teeth grow. This is caused by the new teeth not growing right underneath the deciduous teeth. (Usually, a puppy’s body will absorb the roots of puppy teeth.) If the puppy tooth does not yield to the incoming tooth, it should be removed because it can cause malocclusion or a bad bite. Retained teeth can cause tooth decay because food can be easily caught between the deciduous and permanent teeth. Sometimes the new teeth are forced to grow into an abnormal position and further cause a bad bite. The retained teeth may stay or fall weeks after the new teeth have developed. When necessary, the retained deciduous or baby teeth need to be removed surgically. Like other small breeds, Yorkies are also prone to severe dental disease. Because they have a small jaw, their teeth can become crowded and may not fall out naturally. This can cause food and plaque to build up, and bacteria can eventually develop on the surface of the teeth, leading to periodontal disease. In addition, the bacteria can spread to other parts of the body and cause heart and kidney problems. The best prevention is regular brushing of the teeth with toothpaste formulated specifically for dogs. Never use human toothpaste there is toothpaste made just for dogs. Professional teeth cleaning by a veterinarian may also be required to prevent the development of dental problems.

What is periodontal disease?

Your dog’s mouth can be infected with a bacteria called periodontitis. Usually, you won’t see any obvious signs or symptoms of this silent disease until it reaches its advanced stages, but gum disease can cause gum erosion, chronic pain, tooth loss, and bone loss. Supporting structures of teeth can be weakened or lost.

When food and bacteria accumulate along the gums and are not brushed away, they can develop into plaque, which hardens into calculus known as tartar. This results in inflammation and irritation of the gums (gingivitis) and is an early stage of gum disease.

In the second stage, the attachment between teeth and gums breaks down, which intensifies in stage three and evolves into advanced periodontal disease in the fourth stage. Here you’ll see gum tissue recede, and loss of 50% of the attachment between teeth and gums. Tooth roots can become exposed.

What are the symptoms of periodontal disease in dogs?

Symptoms of canine periodontitis include:

In the advanced stages of gum diseases, your pup may be in significant chronic pain, which our pets hide out of instinct to avoid showing signs of weakness to predators.

The effects of periodontal disease don’t remain confined to your dog’s mouth - they can also lead to problems with major organs and cause heart disease when bacteria from the mouth enter the bloodstream, then attach to arteries surrounding the heart.

What causes periodontal disease?

Bacteria builds up in a dog’s mouth and can eventually develop into plaque, which when combined with other minerals, hardens within two to three days. Calculus is difficult to scrape away from teeth.

As the immune system begins to fight this buildup of bacteria, inflamed gums and more obvious signs of the disease become apparent.

Poor nutrition and diet can play a role in the development of plaque and bacteria that eventually cause periodontal disease. Poor grooming habits (if your pooch licks himself frequently), the alignment of his teeth (dogs with crowded teeth are more susceptible to gum disease), unclean toys, and of course, oral hygiene can create a pile-on effect.

How is periodontal disease in dogs treated?

Depending on the level of care your veterinarian can provide, your pet’s needs, and other factors, treatment measures and their cost can vary widely. Pre-anesthesia blood work is a critical step to find out if your pet is healthy enough for anesthesia medications, which can cause problems for dogs with organ disease.

How can I keep my dog from getting periodontal disease?

Fortunately, periodontal disease is preventable. If detected early, it can also be treated and reversed. You can prevent the disease by being proactive when it comes to your dog’s oral health. Just like us, they require regular dental appointments to maintain their oral hygiene and spot any areas that may give them trouble.

Your pup should see the vet at least once every six months for an oral health evaluation. You can also ask any questions you may have regarding at-home care, in addition to finding out how often your pet should come in for professional teeth cleanings.

Keep problems from developing between appointments by giving your dog’s teeth a daily brushing to prevent plaque and bacteria from forming (use a toothpaste made specifically for dogs).

There are also dental chews, dog food and chew toys specifically designed to address dental disease and keep tartar from getting out of control (but don’t try to use these to replace daily brushing - they may serve as a supplement to regular oral care). If you spot appetite changes, swollen or inflamed gums, or missing teeth, schedule an appointment today.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.