Why is my dog missing teeth?

Written By hannah hollinger
Published: 05/03/2017Updated: 12/03/2021
Veterinary reviewed by Michele K.
Why is my dog missing teeth?

What is Missing Teeth?

Dogs normally go from having 28 deciduous teeth (baby teeth) to 42 adult permanent teeth.  While playing with your dog you may see spaces or gaps between his teeth and then realize that he is missing teeth. There are a variety of reasons that your dog can be missing teeth such as:

  • Losing deciduous teeth
  • Genetic faults
  • Periodontal disease
  • Embedded teeth
  • Hormone loss
  • Canine distemper as a puppy
  • Chewing rocks
  • Wrong type of chew toys

Dental issues can become serious and painful if not treated by a dental veterinarian.

Why Missing Teeth Occurs in Dogs

Losing Deciduous Teeth

Puppies usually lose their deciduous teeth (baby teeth) around 4 to 7 months of age; this is a normal process. If you have a puppy missing teeth, it maybe that he is just getting his permanent teeth in.

Genetics

Some dog breeds are born without a few teeth.  Breeds such as the Doberman Pinscher and the Collie are commonly affected.

Periodontal Disease

Periodontal disease can cause gingivitis, and loss of bone and soft tissue surrounding the tooth.  If not treated, periodontal disease can lead to damage of the jaw bone and the subsequent loss of teeth.

Embedded Teeth

Embedded teeth are teeth that did not erupt during the normal teething process and remain under the gum. Embedded teeth are more common is small dog breeds but may occur in any breed.

Hormone Loss

Hormone loss in a dog’s body can lead to decreased bone mineral content and strength.  This can weaken the tooth anchorage and can increase the chances of developing periodontal disease.

Canine Distemper as a Puppy

Canine distemper is a very serious disease which is often fatal.  Canine distemper can cause the destruction of the cells responsible for producing tooth enamel.  Therefore, if your dog survived the distemper virus, his teeth may be more susceptible to erosion.

Chewing on Rocks

Strange as it may sound, some dogs like chewing on rocks.  It may be that he was starved as a puppy and learned to eat anything he could find.  It may also be out of boredom or wanting attention.  Regardless of the reason why your dog chews on rocks, biting rocks will fracture and break off his teeth.

Wrong Chew Toys

There are some chew toys that can cause your dog’s teeth to crack and fracture.  Hooves, antlers and bones are too rigid and will cause damage to your dog’s teeth. Compressed rawhides can also fracture teeth; they also cause choking.  On a side note, compressed rawhides not made in the USA may have toxic compounds and chemicals.

What to do if your Dog is Missing Teeth

If your dog is missing teeth he should be seen by a veterinarian.  The doctor will take dental x-rays which can determine if there any embedded teeth. Embedded teeth will need to be surgically removed or they may become dentigerous cysts.  Teeth that are fractured will need to be extracted. Dogs with periodontal disease will need a deep dental cleaning, gum surgery and anti-inflammatory medications.  

Owners of dogs that undergo extractions and surgeries will be provided instructions for home oral hygiene for the patient.  For dogs with enamel deficiencies, the veterinary dentist may recommend restorative therapy for enamel hypoplasia.  It is not a permanent procedure but it can help the dog’s teeth not to erode. The protective sealants will need to be replaced periodically. Hormone loss sometimes is treated with soy isoflavones.  Soy isoflavones can actually help restore bone mineral count and strength.

Prevention of Missing Teeth

Dogs should have dental cleanings every 6-12 months to help prevent tartar and buildup.  There are also dog toothbrushes and toothpaste than can be used daily. Do not use human toothpaste on your dog; it can cause him stomach irritation and in fact, toothpastes containing xylitol can be lethal to canines.  If he is not crazy about the toothbrush there are pads or finger brushes that may be used instead. Provide him with safe toys. If your dog chews on rocks all efforts to remove the rocks from the yard should be undertaken.  The rocks will not only damage his teeth but can choke him and cause an abdominal obstruction. 

There are also tartar control treats for your dog which can help to eliminate tartar and plaque and also keep his breath fresh. 

Cost of Missing Teeth

The cost of missing teeth may vary. An annual dental exam may be around $250. This yearly expense could rise in the event of a cleaning but will still be more economical than dealing with periodontal disease, which can be averaged at about $2500.

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Missing Teeth Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

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Maltese

dog-name-icon

Winnie

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8 Years

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3 found this helpful

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3 found this helpful

My pet has the following symptoms:
Missing Teeth
I have a 8 year old female Maltese/yorkie. She only has and has only had 4 lower incisors. My vet is trying to tell me she must have lost 2 of them, I am 100% sure that she's only ever had 4. Is this just a genetic anomaly?

Sept. 3, 2018

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Rat Terrier

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Armondo

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7 Years

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0 found this helpful

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0 found this helpful

My pet has the following symptoms:
Overbite And Lost Teeth
7 years old Rat terrier with an overbite rescued at 1 1/2 years old. He never chewed anything I gve him, Chew toys were ignored, his top front teeth have been lost, still chews his food on the sides. Loves all food, dry and wet.

Aug. 26, 2018

Answered by Dr. Michele K. DVM

0 Recommendations

I'm not sure what your question is about Armondo? If you feel like he has dental disease, which is quite common in dogs, it would be a good idea to have him seen by a veterinarian, as they can assess his mouth and see what treatment or care he may need.

Aug. 26, 2018

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