We frequently see dogs over 1 year of age that still have baby teeth, most commonly baby canine (“fang”) teeth. Do these retained baby teeth cause problems? Do you need to have them removed?
Retained deciduous (baby) teeth should be removed if they are still present after a dog reaches 1 year of age. Many veterinarians will remove these teeth if the dog has them at the time of spaying or neutering, and that’s a great idea. If left alone these teeth provide extra nooks and crannies for plaque to accumulate causing periodontal disease and bad breath. They may also cause crowding of the teeth when the adult teeth erupt.
There are some steps you can take to prevent adverse effects from retained deciduous teeth. If your pet has retained baby teeth and is over 6 months and you haven’t had the opportunity to have them removed (at the time of spay/neuter) it is important to brush the teeth to delay the buildup of plaque and tartar. Sometimes providing a sturdy chew toy, such as a Kong, will help to loosen the teeth so that they will come out on their own. Remember to avoid bones, rawhide chews, and other toys or treats that may come apart when chewed and be unsafe if swallowed. Talk to your veterinarian about removing the retained baby teeth. This is usually a very simple procedure that can be done when the pet is under anesthesia for another reason. Since these are baby teeth, the roots are not deep and there is minimal discomfort after the procedure. Do not try to remove the teeth yourself. If a tooth breaks and part of it remains in the socket it will form an abscess and cause much more a problem than you had initially.
If you have questions about your pet’s retained deciduous teeth, or if you would like information on home dental care for your pet, please contact Homefront Veterinary House Calls at (917)396-4041 or e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Remember to visit our website at www.homefrontvet.com and “like” us on Facebook to read our weekly blogs.