Puppies should have all their baby teeth gone by the time they reach six months old. If one or more continue hanging on, it is important to see a vet before damage is done to the permanent teeth. Vets can often remove the retained puppy teeth at the same time the puppy gets spayed or neutered, avoiding having to put it under anesthetic twice.
What is a retained tooth?
Dogs, like humans, first grow baby teeth. These teeth eventually fall out and your dog’s adult teeth take their place. This happens when the adult tooth presses against the root of the baby tooth and the root gets reabsorbed. The loosened baby tooth then falls out so the adult tooth has a spot to emerge.
In some instances, the root does not get reabsorbed and the baby tooth doesn’t fall out. This can happen if there is no adult tooth to take its place, but most often there is an adult tooth waiting. Sometimes the adult tooth is slightly misaligned and doesn’t press on the root to begin the reabsorption process, but other times, the root is simply strong.
A baby tooth that hangs on is called a retained tooth. It doesn’t stop an adult tooth from erupting, so there can be a multitude of problems for your puppy. Often you can see a double tooth and know this is the tooth health issue.
How many teeth do puppies have?
By the age of four months, puppies should have all their baby teeth in. They have 28 baby teeth. Once these 28 teeth fall out and are replaced, your dog also gets 14 additional adult teeth. Once done, your dog has 42 teeth in its mouth.
Where do my dog’s baby teeth go when they fall out?
Rarely do you find your puppy’s baby teeth when they fall out? This is not unusual. Puppies are quite active and they often swallow their baby teeth while they are eating or playing. This does not harm your puppy in any way. The teeth are very small and pose no physical risk to your puppy.
When should you worry about a retained puppy teeth?
Puppy teeth that are still intact at six months of age are something that should be checked out by a vet. Problems can often be seen earlier, however, and should be immediately addressed. This is the case when you see the adult tooth try to come through but the baby tooth is still occupying the space or you see that there is a double tooth in the space available.
Why is it important to have a retained tooth removed?
Retained teeth can cause a multitude of problems for your dog. This is especially true for smaller breeds who don’t have a large space in their mouths, to begin with. Your dog may end up having a malformed jaw if too many teeth are trying to take up space inside,
As the adult tooth tries to push on the root of the baby tooth, there is a very small space between them. This space is perfect for capturing small bits of food that can spoil and create bacteria. The bacteria then cause infection and pain for your puppy and may start to destroy the larger tooth.
Fighting for the same spot in your dog’s mouth can see the teeth getting impacted in the soft tissue of the gums. This creates swelling, inflammation, and even an abscess. This is very painful and can do a great deal of harm if the abscess bursts.
Your puppy may end up having an improper bite permanently. This happens because one tooth that is improperly placed pushes against the other teeth, causing them to shift. This causes things like overbite and underbite but can also affect your dog’s ability to chew properly, creating stomach problems over time.
Are some dogs more prone to retained teeth?
Retained teeth can happen in any dog but smaller breeds are more prone to this problem and need to be watched more carefully. Dogs most apt to have retained teeth include pugs, bulldogs, Chihuahuas, Pomeranians, and Shih-Tzus. There is also a genetic component. If one or both parents had retained teeth, the chances of a puppy also having them is increased.
Is there a typical puppy teething schedule?
Dogs typically follow a schedule with teething and it takes 6-7 months to complete. The first teeth begin to poke through at about three weeks of age. It takes approximately four months for all the baby teeth to come through. Just as this finishes up, the first adult teeth start to emerge at 3.5 or 4 months. The baby teeth start falling out and are replaced. By 6-7 months, your dog should have a full set of adult teeth.
During these months, your puppy will want to chew. Chewing not only soothes the sore gums but helps the teeth break through the gums. Make sure you provide plenty of opportunities for your puppy to safely chew without being destructive. Also, watch that it doesn’t chew so long and aggressively that it damages newly-formed teeth.
How can I keep my dog’s teeth healthy from the start?
You can start keeping your puppy’s teeth healthy before you even see the first baby tooth. Playfully pull back your dog’s lips and touch the gums gently. Rub the gums softly to get the puppy used to his mouth being touched. The gentle rubbing also soothes sore gums during the teething process.
In the beginning, use a soft cloth that has been wet with warm or slightly cool water. You can also use a special toothbrush made specifically for dogs. As the teeth emerge, you can use a special dog toothpaste to keep tartar under control. Human toothpaste is never to be used for your dog as it contains chemicals that could harm the dog.
Take care of any suspected problems as soon as you see them and have your dog’s teeth professionally cleaned at least once a year. Most pet insurance policies will include this to help defray the cost.
What are common teething problems besides retained teeth?
Retained baby teeth aren’t the only problems you need to watch for in your puppy. Some of the problems, such as unformed adult teeth, which are when there is no adult tooth to push out the baby tooth, are relatively harmless, while others need immediate attention.
Sometimes the puppy’s gums are too fibrous for the teeth to push through on their own. You may see one peek through then disappear or you may feel it beneath the gum’s surface but it never erupts. This is very painful for the puppy and a vet will be needed to help the tooth breakthrough. If one part breaks through but gets stuck, it can become impacted.
Sometimes, the canine teeth erupt at a strange angle. This is known as base narrow canines. When this happens, the teeth can strike the soft palate of your puppy when it closes its mouth. This is a very painful condition that needs immediate attention.
Active puppies can sometimes break or chip a baby tooth. This allows the pulp to be exposed and can lead to infection. This infection can easily cause damage to the adult tooth before it even emerges. Make sure any chipped or broken teeth are seen by a vet.
Puppies, like human children, need to have their dental needs addressed right from the start. Healthy teeth make the puppy happier and healthier, and save you money down the road. Make sure you know what to look for in the way of problems and have them addressed as soon as possible to ensure healthy adult teeth down the road.