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Retained Deciduous Teeth in Dogs

Learn about retained deciduous teeth in dogs.

Dogs have two sets of teeth—deciduous (baby) and adult. When the baby teeth don't fall out, they are referred to as retained deciduous teeth.

How and When Do Dogs' Baby Teeth Fall Out?

Puppies don't have visible teeth when they're born, but their 28 baby teeth erupt in the first few weeks of life. Then, around four months of age, they begin losing baby teeth and get eruption of permanent adult teeth. By 7 months of age, they will have all 42 adult teeth.

The baby teeth fall out because the crowns of the adult teeth push up on them. When that happens, it triggers the roots of the deciduous teeth to dissolve, and then they fall out.

Why Are Some Deciduous Teeth Retained?

A baby tooth will be retained if its roots don't dissolve (called resorption) normally for some reason. If that occurs, the deciduous tooth doesn't budge, and the permanent adult tooth is forced to come in next to it, often at an abnormal angle.

It's not known why some baby teeth don't fall out normally, but some believe the condition has a genetic component because it's more common in small breed dogs.

The most commonly retained deciduous teeth are the upper canines, but lower canines, incisors, and premolars can also be retained.

How Are Retained Deciduous Teeth Diagnosed?

A physical exam reveals the presence of two teeth, one primary and one adult, in the same spot in the mouth.

Treatment of Retained Deciduous Teeth in Dogs: Is It Necessary?

The treatment of retained deciduous teeth in dogs is to pull out the baby tooth (extraction). This should be done as soon as the adult tooth has erupted.

If retained teeth aren't removed, they can lead to dental problems such as:

  • Food getting trapped between the primary and adult tooth
  • Overcrowding of the teeth and an abnormal bite
  • Halitosis (bad breath)
  • Gingivitis
  • Infection and abscess of the tooth root that can negatively affect the permanent tooth

Retained deciduous teeth should be dealt with as soon as they are noticed. General anesthesia is required to remove the teeth.

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