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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.

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.

Types 

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Loss of Teeth Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

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cooper

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lab

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9 Years

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Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Lost Canine Tooth

We have a lab/shepherd mix. Cooper weighs about 84 pounds and is about 9 years old. My son was petting him and noticed a large canine tooth in his bed. just laying there. It is huge and we dont know what happened. He was in a fight 2 weeks ago with another dog but dont know if that has anything to do with it. What should we do if anything??

Aug. 12, 2018

cooper's Owner

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0 Recommendations

You should ensure that Cooper is still eating and drinking with no pain from the loss of the tooth; however you should visit your Veterinarian to ensure that the whole tooth has come out and that there isn’t a part of the root remaining, also your Veterinarian will check for any underlying issues which may cause tooth loss and may perform a dental x-ray to look for loss of jawbone. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Aug. 13, 2018

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Cooper

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Maltese

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9 Years

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Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Teeth

My male Maltese is 9 year, and is healthy overall. A few months ago, I had his teeth cleaned without anesthesia, and when I picked him up, I was informed that he lost to molars all the way in the back. She gave me the teeth. The roots looked short, but there was no decay or bleeding. Today when brushing his teeth, I noticed his first top left premolar is loose. Again, the gums and teeth look healthy. I should mention, we brush his teeth daily, and use Vetzlife gel daily as well. He has no bad breath, shows no signs of distress or pain, has a healthy appetite and gets regular checkups at the vet. The vet never suggested cleaning his teeth, because he always gets high marks. One more thing...his teeth, especially his front incisors, upper and lower are very tiny, and he's missing lots of teeth that never came in, especially his premolars. I've questioned my vet on several occasions if some of his teeth could still be deciduous teeth because I never saw him lose a teeth, and because his teeth are so small, even for his size (as compared to my 8 years old, smaller female Maltese). Is it possible to retain milk teeth for 9 years??? Thank you!!! I appreciate any insight you can give me.

Aug. 4, 2018

Cooper's Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

It is possible for deciduous teeth to stay in and not fall out, especially in smaller breed dogs. Having teeth cleaned without anesthesia does not allow a full cleaning, and if Cooper's teeth are falling out, he should have a dental evaluation. he may need dental x-rays to evaluate his tooth roots. If your veterinarian is not comfortable with his dental care, you may ask for a referral to a veterinary dentist, and they can evaluate his mouth and advise you as to what care he might need.

Aug. 5, 2018

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