chihuahua dog

Maintaining a Healthy Mouth Starts with a Good Home-Care Routine

Danielle Heberle CVT, VTS-H (Dentistry)


February, 2023

My previous dog, Rerun, who lived to the ripe old age of 16 years, had a horrible mouth. For most of his adult life, he was plagued with painful gingivitis and bad breath. Despite having dental procedures twice a year to remove plaque and tartar, it was an uphill battle.

When I found my current dog, Roo, three years ago, his mouth was in great shape. And I intend to keep it that way.

Here are four important steps in Roo’s oral health care routine that will help his mouth stay healthy and pain-free for as long as possible:

  1. First, I brush Roo’s teeth with C.E.T.® Enzymatic Toothpaste and a tiny, soft toothbrush. This certainly took some getting used to, but he likes the poultry flavored toothpaste, so I started slowly by letting him lick the toothpaste off the toothbrush. Now, he occasionally brushes his own teeth by chewing on the bristles to get more toothpaste. Sometimes we get a good brushing done and other times we don’t. I never force it. It’s not always possible to brush daily, but we target three times per week, minimally.

  2. I use a water additive in Roo’s drinking water called Healthy Mouth®. Healthy Mouth helps control plaque, and it is made without synthetic or artificial ingredients. The formula safely cleans teeth and gums and reduces plaque and oral bacteria that cause inflammation.

  3. Roo gets one Teenie Greenie® every day. It’s his favorite! Like clockwork, he gets excited around 12 PM each day—before I even get to the cupboard! He will do just about anything I say to get one.

  4. Roo’s second favorite treat is a Tartar Shield® soft rawhide chew. These are reserved as post-bath rewards. They are very brittle and break easily, so I do not have to be concerned that he will accidentally swallow a large piece.

Healthy Mouth, Teenie Greenie, and Tartar Shield have all received the Veterinary Oral Health Council® (VOHC®) seal of approval. And that’s very important to me. VOHC recognizes products that meet or exceed pre-set standards of plaque and tartar control in dogs and cats. Products are awarded the VOHC Seal of Acceptance following trials conducted according to VOHC protocols.

chihuahua dog

Roo likes non-edible chew toys, too, but I don’t give him anything that isn’t soft or flexible. Chews with hard exteriors can lead to tooth fractures. Roo likes to play with soft toys, but we stay away from anything abrasive, like tennis balls, that could wear down his teeth.

Combining Roo’s “Top 4” with routine preventive oral health procedures will help me keep his mouth feeling great for years to come. Gum inflammation from tartar and bacteria, indicators of stage one periodontal disease, can be reversed with proper care. My goal is to never let Roo go beyond stage one…and that is achievable through our at-home efforts.


Teeny Greeny, Tartar Shield, Healthy Mouth and C.E.T. are registered products of their respective companies. VOHC and Veterinary Oral Health Council are registered marks owned by the American Veterinary Dental College®.