Periodontal Health vs. Various Preventive Means in Toy Dog Breeds

Periodontal Health vs. Various Preventive Means in Toy Dog Breeds


Periodontal disease is an issue that occurs in teeth and gums and is the most common health issue in pet dogs. This is usually the buildup of plaque on teeth that causes an inflammatory reaction of periodontal tissue, and is often more severe when it occurs in toy dogs breeds.


The purpose of this study was to compare how and if preventative acts, including tooth-brushing, dental diet, and commercial dental chewing strips had an effect on the reduction of plaque and dental calculus. Dental calculus is just hardened plaque. This study was conducted in Slovak Republic and included 6 Chihuahuas, 1 male and 5 females with ages ranging from 3-7. The dogs teeth were all cleaned using ultrasonic cleaning devices and in between each study period. These dogs were subject to 4 periods lasting 8 weeks each. Each period had a different strategy to attempt to prevent periodontal disease.


  1. Feeding wet commercial food and brushing half of teeth/mouth once a week

  2. Feeding dry commercial food and brushing half of teeth/mouth once a week

  3. Feeding special dental diet food with no tooth-brushing

  4. Feeding wet and dry commercial diet once a day. Als ½ of a chewing strip per day


After each of the 8 weeks, dogs teeth were photographed and then examined. They stained the teeth of the Chihuahuas with fluorescein dye to better visualize the dental plaque deposition. They then removed the dental plaque to assess the calculus depositions. Plaque, calculus, and gingivitis were all scored individually on scale from 0-4. 0 meant no plaque, calculus, or gingivitis was present. A  4 meant that more than ⅔ of the tooth crown was covered in plaque or supragingival calculus. For gingivitis a 4 meant it was severe (presence of ulcerations or profuse bleeding).


The results they found were that when the dogs were fed either soft or dry food and had weekly teeth cleanings, the plaque deposition had similar mean scores. But tooth-brushings had no general positive influence on plaque deposition. There was no significant difference between sides of the mouth in individual dogs. Dental calculus deposition scores showed that the brushed side of the mouth had lower scores for both soft and hard food. When fed soft food, tooth brushing had a decrease in calculus deposition by 21.7%-29.4% and a decrease of 31.8%-33.3% when fed dry food.


When the dogs were fed the special dental diet, this showed similar calculus deposition to the previous groups with almost no difference between teeth. The mean dental plaque and gingivitis scores did not differ between commercial food and special diet food. In the last trail, with the dental strips the results were more diverse with scores ranging from 1-2.5. This was because it heavily depended on the dog’s willingness to chew the dental strip. In dogs that were willing to chew it had minimal calculus deposition on the molars, but their front teeth had similar calculus deposition scores as in the previous trials. The refusal of chewing the strips cause and extensive calculus deposition on their teeth.


Gingivitis scores did show differences when the teeth were treated differently. When half of the dogs mouth was brushed, there was an increase in gingival reaction on the side not brushed. 1.7-2.3 on non cleaned size compared to 1-1.5 on cleaned side.


This study demonstrated the differences in calculus deposition among individual chihuahuas fed the same food. There was no difference between the brushed side and the non brushed side of the mouth when comparing calculus deposition. There was a difference though in gingivitis, demonstrating that dental calculus does not cause gingivitis. The special diet case failed to show an effect on dentition as it appears insignificant. The chewing strips shows strictly local differences in certain teeth of the mouth (the molars). But again, showed similar dental plaque and calculus deposition as with the other methods. This only if the Chihuahuas were willing to chew the strips. Overall, this study demonstrates that none of these diets or hygiene practices alone fully prevent the development of periodontal health problems. In general, tooth brushing produced the best general prevention for tissue inflammation, but would also need help from a periodontal professional to best preserve oral health.


Summary By: Katherine Handley

Capík I. Periodontal Health vs. Various Preventive Means in Toy Dog Breeds. Acta Veterinaria Brno. 2010;79(4):637-645. doi:10.2754/avb201079040637.