The first picture is common of what I see every day! Unfortunately, small breed dogs, especially Yorkies, are most likely to have dental disease this bad. I challenge you to lift your pet’s lip (assuming they don’t bite) and look at the upper premolars and molars (the big teeth in the back). You may be shocked at what you see! When you look at those teeth, think to yourself, what would your dentist say if you showed up with teeth looking like that one day. If he would be horrified, then you should be too! If you notice in this patient, 3 teeth on top had to be removed. The reason is that the only thing holding the teeth in place was the tartar. They were too far gone to save! Once we removed the tartar from the teeth, it was obvious that the extreme build up of tartar had pushed the gums back (causing gingival recession) that there was only 1-2mm of the root still attached to the bone. Many times, we’ll remove tartar from these areas and find that the teeth underneath are actually fractured as well. What is amazing is that our pet’s tolerance for oral pain is far better than ours! Most will continue to eat with loose and fractured teeth, so don’t use the appetite as a way to gauge if your pet is painful or not. I have found that only in extreme pain will they stop eating.
Did you know that all that infection and bacteria in the mouth can lead to other medical problems for your pet? It is known that since the mouth is very vascular (very large blood supply), the bacteria in the mouth easily enter the blood stream and can lodge anywhere in the body where the blood vessels get very narrow and turn into capillaries. Those places are the kidneys, the liver and the lungs (the heart too). Dental disease that affects the lungs can lead to allergy and asthma type conditions in your pet. If your pet already has a collapsing trachea, this can make it worse. Unfortunately, the small breed dogs that have the worst dental disease are also prone to collapsing tracheas. We see so many older pets with elevated kidney and liver values and many of these pets have terrible dental disease, I have to wonder if the 2 aren’t related.
The good news is that this can be prevented! Most small dogs will need a dental cleaning every year to prevent this. Some will need it every 6 months, as do some people. Large dogs that like to chew on toys may only need a dental every few years. What makes the most difference though is when a pet owner is wiling to brush the pet’s teeth! It is a known fact that plaque (the soft film on the teeth) becomes calculus (the hard stuff on the teeth that can’t be brushed off) in 48 hours. So, brushing a dog’s teeth every 1-2 days can prevent tartar build up. See the picture below of a dog whose owner brushed his teeth every other day!
This is “Spike” a 12 year old dog that does not need a dental because mom brushes his teeth every other day! If you are going to brush your pet’s teeth, I strongly recommend that you have a professional dental cleaning done first, and start with clean teeth.
If you are not sure what is right for your pet, come in for an evaluation. One plan doesn’t fit all dogs; and there are a variety of at home treatments you can use after a dental cleaning such as oravet, greenies, T/D diet, CET Hetra Chews, standard toothbrush, fingerbrush, glove brush, chicken flavored tooth paste and more!