Smaller dogs have the same amount of teeth as larger dogs, although packed into a small space (crowded). However, it's multifactorial why smaller dogs, like Yorkies, can be prone to building up additional food and plaque - and eventually bacteria that leads to "periodontal disease." SOLUTION: Even simple things like brushing 2-3x/week with "doggy toothpaste" and routine dentals can really help at home whether you have a small or large dog. DO NOT use human toothpaste, as it can be quite toxic to dogs, especially since they will often swallow the paste instead of spit it out.
Unlike humans, pets cannot readily brush their own teeth. You can imagine what goes on after months to years of not brushing, flossing, or rinsing your own mouth. Another very important thing to remember when evaluating dental care in your own pet is that the most important pathology is often NOT what you can see, but what is hidden under the gums (that you can't see). Over time, the bacteria of the mouth can seed into other areas of the body, leading to infection of vital organs such as the heart, liver, kidney or virtually anywhere the bloodstream carries them. A pet’s mouth is a gateway for bacteria and should be monitored and treated with the best care possible AND as soon as possible to prevent more serious effects.
There are some very simple things you can do at home to manage your pet's dental care. In general, dry food, dental chews, and routine brushing can be very effective. Also, routinely monitor your pet for any redness of his/her gums, pain while eating, dropping food, excessive salivation, or foul breath can help tremendously. A regular, routine oral examination at least once a year can be very helpful along with a dental cleaning, if necessary. Watching for any pain or swelling is also critical, as lodged food/particles can cause acute pathophysiology such as “tooth root abscesses” due to trauma and inflammation, etc. If you have any specific questions, please do not hesitate to call or ask your veterinarian about your specific pet's needs and keep your pet as healthy and happy as possible!
Be sure to check back soon for more blog posts containing education and tips/tricks on best practices for taking care of your pet!