What is Retained Baby Teeth?
Retained baby teeth is a condition specific to where the eruption of a permanent tooth occurs, which would normally occur when the canine is three to seven months of age, but the baby teeth stay in place. The oral issues that arise can be severe, and include abnormal positioning of permanent teeth, accidental bites that may disrupt and injure the dogs palate, an abnormal jaw position, or in severe cases, an inability to eat without pain. Early recognition is dependent on you, the owner, and is key to avoiding severe damage. Be sure to seek out the help of a veterinarian with the experience and technology to properly handle dental care in order to avoid permanent damage.A retained or persistent deciduous (puppy) tooth for an adult dog can lead to oral diseases if it cannot fall out naturally. Common problems include a visually abnormal jaw position, overcrowding in teeth, palate biting, and difficulty biting or chewing. Although it can be an issue for older dogs (ex. boxers, bulldogs, pugs), it's more common among smaller breeds (ex. Maltese, Pomeranians, Poodles, and Yorkshire terriers).
Book First Walk Free!
Symptoms of Retained Baby Teeth in Dogs
Outside of obvious visual proof that the jaw sits abnormally or both teeth clamped together, other symptoms to look for with retained puppy teeth in dogs include:
- Food collections in the gap of the teeth
- Premature loss of adult teeth
- Pus cavity forming under teeth
- Strenuous time eating food
- Tartar deposits
- Tooth decay
There are four types of teeth that should be in a pet's mouth in the upper and lower jaw area:
- Canine teeth - holding and tearing food
- Incisors - cutting and nibbling food
- Molars - grinding food
- Premolars - cutting, holding, and shearing food
Puppies start out with 28 deciduous (temporary or "baby" teeth). As they grow into adult dogs, there should be 42 permanent teeth. The puppy teeth, or milk teeth as they are commonly referred to will start to fall out between 14 and 30 weeks of age. It's not uncommon for a dog to swallow the "tooth buds" from baby teeth while eating, but sometimes pet owners may find the crowns of these teeth around the dog's play or sleep area.
Causes of Retained Baby Teeth in Dogs
Malocclusion is a genetic abnormality that leads to some teeth not fitting together comfortably to chew or when a dog's mouth is closed. While 85 percent of dogs have some kind of oral disease at the age of four or older, baby teeth abnormalities are more likely linked to smaller dogs and usually at earlier ages.
Diagnosis of Retained Baby Teeth in Dogs
When a pet owner notices that a dog appears to have deciduous teeth next to adult teeth, it should be made a priority to contact a veterinarian. Pet owners should keep track of the progress on a dog's teeth during the first seven to eight months, in addition to daily dog teeth brushing to keep the mouth clean. A veterinarian may delay a potential extraction process until after spaying or neutering the animal due to general anesthesia that will be needed to examine the teeth, although there is controversy over whether the wait time is necessary.
Veterinarians will complete X-rays of the dog's mouth to determine whether stubborn teeth are not coming out in a timely manner and whether adult teeth are growing in. Looking for signs of pain may prove to be more difficult since dogs will more often than not either mask the pain or just grow used to it. This is why veterinarians do a complete examination on the mouth.
Treatment of Retained Baby Teeth in Dogs
If/when deciduous teeth show no signs of falling out naturally, a veterinarian will more than likely recommend having the baby teeth extracted. Fractured, or retained teeth, may also need to be removed. A veterinarian will complete a gingival flap, an oral process in which a dog's gums are separated from its teeth and folded back to reach the root of the tone and the bone.
While some dogs will genetically have an overbite, the tooth extraction process is also used to fix that if possible. Long upper jaws are necessary during the nursing years, but as a dog grows older, the lower jaw should have a growth spurt in which adult teeth grow in, too. If lower teeth get caught behind the upper teeth, the lower jaw cannot close properly. A veterinarian may recommend getting rid of a few lower baby teeth to correct the issue so the jaw can expand naturally. This will also get baby teeth out of the way so adult teeth can grow in.
Depending on the dog's teeth, a special plate (i.e., braces) or tooth shortening may also be useful to help along in the process for adult teeth to grow into the dog's mouth correctly.
Recovery of Retained Baby Teeth in Dogs
Extraction, along with any procedures to fix gums, should heal within six to eight weeks. If all teeth did not grow in naturally within approximately three months, then they should be able to grow in within a few weeks after the extraction process.
If a dog has trouble eating during the healing process, a feeding tube may be necessary. Frequent dental preventive care is recommended until all teeth grow in correctly.
Tooth decay and cavities are rare in most dogs, but cleaning a dog's teeth each day is recommended either way. If the teeth grow in correctly, and the dog's mouth is regularly cleaned, this should be a one-time issue.
Cost of Retained Baby Teeth in Dogs
The treatment corresponding to retained baby teeth is dependent on if tooth extraction is required. Tooth extraction costs on average $527 and can go upwards of $1000 depending on how late-stage the surgery is, how difficult the extraction is, and if additional teeth need to be extracted. A surgical gingival flap will cost between $32 and $55. If your veterinarian prescribes Tramadol to take home, it'll cost between $20 and $32. If your dog is also getting his teeth cleaned, which is suggested by most veterinarians when a dentistry event is taking place, the average cost will be $312 - $360.
Retained Baby Teeth Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals
My dog turns 1 year old in 2 days. I noticed that he still has his upper baby canines. The adult canines have grown right in front of them and he doesn’t have any problems eating or chewing. Should I still take him in to the vet? Will he definitely need the baby teeth to fall out? Is there a possibility they will fall out soon even though the adult ones have already fully grown in?
Add a comment to Mookie's experience
Was this experience helpful?
My 6 month old chihuahua has her adult canine teeth and her baby ones never fell out. The adult ones grew in front of the baby ones. Do i need to have them pulled or give them time to fall out on their own?
Add a comment to Itty bitty's experience
Was this experience helpful?
It appears that a lower canine tooth is growing OVER the baby tooth. Almost like the new tooth has begun to absorb the baby tooth and is growing around and over top of it.
There can be some issues with the eruption of permanent teeth and the retention of ‘baby’ teeth, this would be something that you should see your Veterinarian about; in some cases the baby tooth may be able to be removed with a little persuasion or it may need to be removed surgically, without examining Rosie I cannot tell you which way it would go. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM
Add a comment to Rosie's experience
Was this experience helpful?