Why Are Retained Baby Teeth a Problem?

 “Max” is a two year old little dog that had many retained deciduous (baby) teeth that were causing several dental problems.  The extra teeth were causing his adult teeth to be crowded in his mouth.  The crowding caused food debris to get trapped in the gaps between the teeth, since his saliva could not rinse his mouth well.   Also, since the baby teeth were still in the proper positions in his mouth, the adult teeth were moved aside as they came in.

The normal development sequence is for the adult teeth to push out the puppy (or kitten) teeth.  There should only be one tooth in the spot in the mouth at a time.  If the adult teeth have erupted and are in the mouth and the corresponding baby tooth is still present (and not very loose), the baby tooth should be pulled, so the adult tooth has the chance to develop in the right location. The adult teeth of dogs and cats have usually erupted by six months of age, some large breed dogs take a bit longer.  The earlier the problem is detected and treated, the better the chance the adult teeth will develop normally.  This is why persistent deciduous teeth are usually dealt with at the time of the pet’s spay or neuter procedure, which is typically done about six months of age.  Retained baby teeth can occur in any breed, however, it is more common in small breed dogs.

Max’s mouth after the baby teeth were extracted.  The whole process was done under general anesthesia.

“Max” is already two years old so there may not be many changes in the position of his adult teeth, but his oral health will improve. There are less nooks and crannies to trap food, hair, etc., so less irritants for his gums.  Better oral health helps preserve his general health as well.

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