vet checking teeth

Oral Health

Study highlights the importance of regular oral examinations for extra-small dogs

Puppy teeth generally fall out at around six months of age. When they don't fall out, but the permanent (adult) tooth is also present, they are referred to as 'persistent deciduous teeth' (PDT). And though they may be small, they can have a big impact on a dog's long-term health and wellbeing.

PDT is the most common problem seen in paediatric canine dentistry1. Some of its risks include bite misalignment (malocclusion), soft tissue trauma and longer term it can cause gum disease (periodontal disease), all of which can be painful for a dog, especially a puppy.

To increase awareness of PDT, Waltham Petcare Science Institute has conducted a new study, “Persistent deciduous teeth: Association of prevalence with breed, breed size and body weight in pure-bred client-owned dogs in the United States," which was recently published in Research in Veterinary Science.

The research, led by Dr Corrin Wallis — Senior Research Scientist at Mars Petcare — analysed the medical records of almost three million dogs from Banfield® Pet Hospital's across the United States.

This huge dataset covered a five-year period to understand the effect breed, size, and bodyweight have on PDT development. 60 breeds of dog were represented, belonging to six weight categories from extra-small (<6.5 kg), all the way to extra-large (>40 kg).

The overall prevalence of PDT in the dogs studied was 7%. This may sound small, but in the context of nearly three million veterinary records, this equates to around 200,000 dogs.

Compared to other breed sizes, PDT was significantly more common in extra-small breeds — including the Yorkshire terrier, Maltese and toy poodle, — where up to 15% of dogs had PDT. A prevalence of <1% was reported in medium-large, large and extra-large breeds, with the lowest being the Greyhound.

In addition to dog breeds and sizes predisposed to PDT, the study identified that those pets registered on a healthcare or wellness plan, or that have received routine preventative dental care (dental prophylaxis) within the last 2 years have increased odds of PDT being identified.

These findings highlight that certain breeds are predisposed to PDT and emphasises the importance of regular veterinary health checks. They also show just how vital oral care is for the overall health and wellbeing of dogs, especially those in the extra-small breed size category.

By contributing to the understanding of PDT and canine oral health research, we continue our commitment to investing in science to build A BETTER WORLD FOR PETS™.