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Bite Into Oral Health: Chihuahua Teeth Facts

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Many people wonder if their dog’s teeth really need to be brushed. The answer is a definite yes, especially if the dog is a chihuahua.

As chihuahuas are one of the longest living breeds of dogs, the pearly whites that snatch bacon off your plate need loving care just like the rest of your chihuahua to help them live the longest and healthiest life possible.

Check out our main post that showcases all our chihuahua fact articles!

We will explore different chihuahua teeth facts that you may not know. But even if you do know them, it’s a good reminder.

The most common health issue suffered by the Chihuahua are dental issues

chihuahua with open mouth

Chihuahuas are known to suffer from dental issues. Periodontal disease is most often found in chihuahuas.

Poor oral hygiene in dogs can lead to bacteria from the mouth entering the bloodstream and impacting their heart, kidneys, and liver.

There are many signs that your chihuahua is suffering from an oral health issue, such as:

closeup of dog's bad teeth

  • Their appetite decreases, which may be a result of a painful dental issue that makes eating difficult.
  • Their breath smells bad, which may be the smell of an oral infection or significant tartar buildup.
  • Adult teeth should not wiggle loose like puppy teeth. Loose teeth are not a natural part of aging and can be prevented with good oral hygiene. Dogs lose teeth as a result of bone loss in their jaw from periodontal disease.
  • If you notice blood on your chihuahua’s toys, check their teeth. While they may have cut their gums on a sharp edge, it could be an indication of a more serious problem.
  • If your chihuahua is drooling excessively, that is an indication of an oral health issue and should be examined by a veterinarian.
  • If your chihuahua will not let you look at their teeth, this could be because they are hurting.
  • Visible plaque, which is usually gray or yellow in color, means your chihuahua needs a professional dental cleaning.

If severe enough, oral health problems can shorten your chihuahua’s life span. The good news is that there are many preventative care options to help your chihuahua improve their dental health.

You can even start improving your chihuahua’s dental health today! Start by brushing his teeth.

How to brush your Chihuahua’s teeth

chihuahua with toothbrush in mouth

Now that you know your chihuahua needs her teeth brushed, where do you start?

First, you will need to purchase a dog tooth brushing kit. This first step towards good oral hygiene is not expensive; dog dental kits are usually less than $10.

Watch this video for a step-by-step guide of how to train your chihuahua to tolerate their teeth being brushed.

  • If your dog is not used to her teeth being brushed, or you are training a puppy to tolerate their teeth being brushed, starting with the finger brush may be easier.
  • If your dog will not tolerate the brush or the finger brush, wrap gauze around your finger to use during training sessions and brushing sessions. This will be less intimidating and help make starting this new habit more comfortable.
  • Combined with an appealing-smelling dog toothpaste, like original or peanut butter, your chihuahua will warm up to this new part of her routine.
  • Be sure to purchase a brush with a small brush head. If the small brush head does not work for your chihuahua, consider purchasing a toothbrush designed for human babies. While your chihuahua can use a human toothbrush, he cannot use human toothpaste. Only use dog toothpaste to brush your dog’s teeth. Human dental products may contain ingredients that are toxic to dogs.
  • Keep in mind that you should brush your chihuahua’s teeth 2 to 3 times a week (daily is better) for the brushing to make an impact.
  • Only the outside of their teeth requires brushing. This is lucky, as chihuahua’s tiny mouths make brushing the inside of their teeth challenging.
  • If you have a puppy, now is the time to work with her to get her used to her teeth being brushed. If you have an adult chihuahua who is not used to his teeth being brushed, with a little patience and persistence, you can train him to get used to it too.

Brushing a chihuahua's teeth

Remember how important this is to their overall health if they are not cooperating with you and try to use positive reinforcement to make it an enjoyable experience for you both. Do not force your dog to tolerate dental care as this may make them fearful or aggressive..

How many teeth do dogs have?

Puppies are born with 28 “milk teeth” or baby teeth which are fully grown by the age of 10 weeks. Those puppy teeth are usually all lost by the time they are 1 year old, and replaced with a set of 42 permanent adult teeth.

Helping puppies prepare for their adult teeth

chihuahua puppy chewing a chew toy

It is very important for puppies to have lots of chew toys to help wiggle their puppy teeth loose.

Purchase lots of rubber bones and rope toys for your puppy; as they sink their teeth into the rubber of the bone and the string of the rope, their teeth will wiggle.

If a puppy does not lose a tooth, it may be impacted when it’s adult counterpart replaces it.

Monitor all your puppy’s teeth and show your veterinarian if you notice crowding or impacted teeth.

An impacted tooth can usually be removed while the puppy is spayed or neutered, reducing the frequency of times they would spend under anesthesia.

If an impacted tooth is not removed, food can become stuck around the impacted site, or one of teeth can break. Both scenarios can result in a painful infection.

Helping adult chihuahuas maintain good oral health

After your puppy loses all their puppy teeth, your next task is making sure their adult teeth stay healthy.

While veterinarians do acknowledge that brushing your dog’s teeth regularly is important, there are other things you can do without brushing their teeth to help keep them clean and sparkling:

  • Ask your veterinarian about a prescription dental diet
  • Offer soft rubber dental toy and hard rubber dental bones as chew toys.
  • Offer a dental rope toy.
  • Keep fresh water available at all times.
  • Be sure to check out our rawhide alternatives article for some great teeth cleaning chewy ideas.
  • Feed dry food, not wet food.
  • Feed carrots and apples, which can help clean teeth.
  • Use alternative dental care products like water additives provided by your veterinarian.

Closing Considerations

You can proactively improve your chihuahua’s oral health by:

  • Brushing their teeth daily.
  • Scheduling professional dental cleanings regularly.
  • Feeding dental treats.
  • Providing dental chew toys.

Veterinarian checking chihuahua's teeth

If brushing their teeth is something you don’t want to deal with, have their teeth cleaned professionally by your vet

Understand this is similar to human teeth cleaning in the sense that x-rays are often recommended, but different in the fact that your dog will need to undergo anesthesia for the cleaning.

I know it can be a pain to deal with but your dog’s teeth aren’t something you can ignore. If you want to keep your chi pain-free, comfortable, healthy, and help them live longer, you need to care for their teeth.

I’d love to know if you have found any easy ways to keep your dog’s teeth clean. Share them with us in the comments!


woman kneeling in front of a dog outside in snow

Paula Simons


This article has been reviewed, fact-checked, and approved by Dr. Paula Simons DVM. You can read more about her on our About page.

Julie Cameron

Tuesday 11th of October 2022

Hi Cathy, my chi is 14 years old and last year she had 6 teeth removed whilst under anaesthetic and being spayed. She also has Inflamatory bowel disease, and is on a special dry food diet that I purchase from my Vet, is this enough to clean her teeth whlst she is eating?

That you for sharing those wonderful photos of your chi's, I especially love the photos of Lucy, she is so cute. Thank you and kind regards, Julie Cameron


Thursday 13th of October 2022

Dry food does help but she does need something more. Since she is on a special diet, I would ask your vet for his recommendations but I'll tell you that my dogs love Ark Naturals dental chews. You can get them in a small size and they get one every morning. It's also a good idea to brush her teeth a few times a week if you can.


Tuesday 11th of October 2022

Hello Cathy, fantastic to hear that your ongoing chemo. treatments are becoming more manageable and also that your attendance to a relative's Wedding was perfect for both you and your son. Lucy and Lulu have similar angelic features. The article on dental hygiene for chis is very informative, our chis love to chew on raw chicken feet that also cleans their teeth. Have a great day.X


Thursday 13th of October 2022

Thanks Sandra! I have heard that about raw chicken feet. I thought about trying them but am kind of freaked out by them.

Diana Jaimes

Saturday 11th of September 2021

Please help my chi


Friday 23rd of July 2021

My little girl, who is 13, has had two dental surgeries. She has six teeth left. I now use PetzLife Oral Care Peppermint Gel on her remaining teeth. You put the gel on your finger and can either rub it over the gums or just put it on the tongue and it goes to work. I think Bella really enjoys her "minty breath".


Friday 23rd of July 2021

That's great Marguerite!


Friday 17th of January 2020

What is the recommended time frame for dental cleaning from vet? Every year?


Saturday 18th of January 2020

It really depends on the dog. Usually it's once a year but if the teeth are taken care of at home, it can be every 2-3 years or not at all even. So far my 3 haven't needed their teeth professionally cleaned and I hope that continues.