Retained Puppy Teeth
What is it?
A deciduous pet tooth is deemed persistent (retained) as soon as the permanent (adult) tooth erupts. The permanent pet tooth does not need to be fully erupted for the deciduous to be considered retained.
Affects Dogs and Cats
This is most common in toy and small breed dogs but can occur in any breed as well as cats. The most common teeth affected are the canines, followed by the incisors and premolars. Any oral exam will reveal additional teeth in the arcades, which often appear crowded. In addition, the adult teeth are typically deflected into an abnormal position.
Critical to Treat
This unnatural position may cause tooth or gum trauma leading to possible infections. Studies have shown these orthodontic problems can occur within two weeks after the adult teeth erupt. In addition to orthodontic consequences, periodontal issues also occur with retained deciduous teeth. This is due to the adult and puppy teeth crowding together. The abnormal anatomy results in a weakened periodontal attachment and increased susceptibility to future periodontal (gum) disease.
Treatment for retained deciduous teeth
There should never be two teeth of the same type in the same place at the same time.
Therefore, any persistent deciduous teeth should be extracted as early as possible. Do not wait until six months of age to perform the extractions when neutering your pet. The time of adult tooth eruption is 3-4 months for incisors and 5-6 months for canines.
It would be best if you examined your pet’s mouth at least once a week to ensure the prompt removal of these teeth.
Radiographs & Extraction Process
Dental radiographs are critical to the proper performance of deciduous extractions because there is often some degree of resorption of the deciduous root.
The extraction of deciduous pet teeth can be challenging due to the deciduous tooth’s considerable length and thin walls. Resorption of the retained deciduous tooth can also compromise the extraction. Dental x-rays provide this information, allowing the practitioner to remove the tooth much less invasively.
Some veterinary dentists perform surgical extractions for deciduous canines; however, at VDS, we generally perform the less invasive closed technique.
Retained Root Complications
A retained root tip left behind after an extraction attempt may become infected. There are rarely any clinical signs associated with this, but the patient suffers regardless. Dental radiographs should be exposed following all extractions to confirm the complete removal of the deciduous tooth.