Retained Deciduous Teeth by Dr. Tiffany Cardoza, DVM

Like humans, dogs have two sets of teeth in their lives, the deciduous teeth (puppy teeth) and the permanent teeth (adult teeth). Eruption of deciduous teeth occurs in puppies at aroundfour weeks of age. These teeth remain until three to four months of age when they are replaced with adult teeth over the course of two to three months. Frequently in small breeds (Yorkies, Poodles and Chihuahuas) this process can become disorganized or disrupted. This results in both the permanent and puppy tooth being simultaneously present and crowded in the same location. The most common teeth to be retained are the upper and lower canine teeth.

If both teeth are present, it causes crowding. This allows for accumulation of hair and food, along with gingivitis and bacteria which lead to periodontal disease. In addition, the permanent tooth will take an abnormal position in the mouth which can lead to bite abnormalities (malocclusion) creating pain and discomfort. Teeth can rub together causing breakdown of enamel and weakening or breakage of the affected teeth.

The only treatment for retained deciduous teeth is surgical extraction. If treated early, the adult teeth will move to their correct position. As always, it is important to know that maintaining proper oral health care for your pet can increase their life expectancy by over two years!

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