Loss of Teeth in Dogs

Written By hannah hollinger
Published: 05/26/2017Updated: 11/04/2021
Veterinary reviewed by Dr. Linda Simon, MVB MRCVS
Missing Teeth in Dogs - Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, Recovery, Management, Cost

What is Loss of Teeth?

Your dog may be missing one or more teeth for multiple reasons. The tooth may never have formed, or while it is present below the gum line, it never came in. A tooth could also have been malformed. Should your dog experience periodontal disease, it can result in a tooth or teeth being extracted; he can also lose a tooth or teeth due to trauma. 

Dental care is necessary for your dog to prevent periodontal disease. Dental disease causes local pain and infection and the bacteria can work their way to other parts of his body, causing problems elsewhere.

Your dog may be missing one or more teeth as a result of the tooth or teeth not being formed, having formed improperly or having never come in. More commonly, a tooth or teeth may be missing due to periodontal disease or as a result of trauma or a previous surgical extraction.

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Symptoms of Loss of Teeth in Dogs

Your dog will show signs of possible periodontal disease. These include:

  • Bad breath
  • Redness or bleeding at the gum line
  • Drooling (sometimes with blood)
  • Trouble chewing, which can look like messy eating
  • Pawing at his mouth
  • Less or no appetite
  • Missing teeth (or teeth are loose)
  • Swelling in his face
  • Receding gums
  • Discharge from his nose
  • Weight loss

Should a tooth have not formed or grown in completely in your dog’s mouth, you may observe a space where the tooth would usually be. Should a tooth become loose or fall out as a result of trauma, you may notice bleeding at its location.


A tooth may not have formed, or may have formed abnormally. In other cases, a tooth may be formed but not emerge past the gum line. Teeth may fall out or need to be removed as the result of periodontal disease or physical trauma.

Causes of Loss of Teeth in Dogs

Missing teeth can be caused by periodontal disease, which is inflammation of the structures that surround your dog’s teeth. It will occur when the gums become inflamed (also known as gingivitis) in conjunction with bone and tooth support structure inflammation (known as periodontitis). These two things will hinder the support system of your dog’s tooth and are the most likely cause of tooth loss in dogs, occurring  in over 85% of dogs that are more than four years old.

Bacteria will first form a film of plaque on your dog’s teeth. Over the course of days, the minerals that are in your dog’s saliva will connect with the plaque and tartar will develop. Tartar is a visible, hard substance that will stick to your dog’s teeth. The bacteria will make their way under your dog’s gums, leading to the gums becoming inflamed. As the bacteria are under the gums they can start to destroy the tissue that surrounds and support your dog’s tooth. Since the bacteria can travel in your dog’s bloodstream to his heart, kidneys, and liver, periodontal disease can cause more than lost teeth.

Diagnosis of Loss of Teeth in Dogs

In the case of trauma, the reason for the missing tooth or teeth will be easy to diagnose. Should you notice a missing tooth in your dog, or observe the symptoms of dental disease, you will want to schedule an appointment with your veterinarian. 

Your veterinarian will conduct an examination of your dog’s mouth, looking for signs of gingivitis and the formation of tartar (calculus). As the majority of periodontal disease is present under his gums, the best way to determine the severity of your dog’s condition is for your veterinarian to conduct an examination while your dog is anesthetized. He can then use a dental probe to see the degree of loss of attachment around each tooth, as well as take oral x-rays to get an understanding of the bone loss that has occurred and whether there are abscesses or other issues.

Treatment of Loss of Teeth in Dogs

The treatment that your vet recommends will depend on the cause of the missing tooth or teeth.

In the case of periodontal disease, the aim of treatment is to minimise tooth loss.

 If the dog is over one year of age and has a tooth that has not come in, your veterinarian may recommend extracting the unerupted tooth as it can lead to dentigerous cysts forming, which can grow large and result in damage to other teeth. Should a cyst form, surgery can be performed to remove the impacted tooth and cystic lining.

If your dog is experiencing mild periodontal disease where he has gingivitis but has not had bone loss, a thorough dental cleaning will be conducted that includes the area underneath the gum. This can help in resolving the problem. Should the disease be more severe and there be loss in the supporting structures, the condition cannot be resolved while the tooth is present. Therefore, your veterinarian may consider procedures to slow the disease, like  root planing, a root canal or extracting the tooth.

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Recovery of Loss of Teeth in Dogs

To avoid periodontal disease being an ongoing issue, you can brush your dog’s teeth daily in order to eliminate plaque before it turns to tartar and take him to the veterinarian for regular cleanings. Depending on the severity of disease, some dogs may need a dental cleaning every few years. There are also special rinses and foods that can help the health of your dog’s teeth and gums.

Should your dog be over a year old and require surgery for an impacted tooth, he should make a full recovery. Your veterinarian may request a follow up appointment after extracting the tooth to confirm he is healing.

Loss of Teeth Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals


Shetland Sheepdog



Thirteen Months


4 found this helpful


4 found this helpful

My pet has the following symptoms:
Missing Tooth And Retained Puppy Tooth
Was going to investigate the dental issue of one missing and one retained tooth during her spay, but decided for a number of reasons to delay her spay procedure until she is two. However, still thinking about having a anesthetic dental exam and the xrays done now.. instead of waiting another year on this .. Are missing teeth -3rd premolar bottom left- common in dogs or does such a situation warrant the dental now? Also at 13 months, she wants to chew everything and has even though we are very watchful. Is this normal? Should we also ask for a stomach xray too?

Sept. 27, 2020

Answered by Dr. Michele K. DVM

4 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. Missing teeth are not particularly common, and it would likely be a good idea to get the dental x-rays even if you postpone her spay surgery. I can't think of a reason to x-ray her abdomen unless she is having signs of vomiting and diarrhea.

Oct. 12, 2020

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Yorkshire Terrier



Nine Years


0 found this helpful


0 found this helpful

My pet has the following symptoms:
He got hurt about a week ago and Thinking at this point it may be infected but not sure

Aug. 2, 2020

Answered by Dr. Michele K. DVM

0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. That wound may be infected, I think you're right. Without being able to actually see him in his hard to say but it looks like it would be best to take him to a veterinarian. He may need antibiotic care. I hope that all goes well for him.

Aug. 2, 2020

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