Feb 21 2014

When the Tooth Fairy Doesn’t Come

The concept of losing an entire set of teeth is normal only because it happens to everyone.  Otherwise, sharp bony teeth that were firmly attached in the mouth suddenly falling out would be creepy and gross.  In some cases, a small breed dog’s baby teeth do not get the message that they should fall out.  Normally, at just the right time, the body starts to eat away at the roots of the baby teeth.  With the roots and blood supply gone, the teeth loosen and fall out.  However, in these cases where the teeth don’t fall out, the roots are still as strong as ever.

In the picture below, there are two teeth that are retained (or still there).  You can see one as a pointy tooth at the bottom-center of the picture.  The other tooth is also pointy and is near the top-center of the picture blending in with the larger tooth behind it.  They are both retained canines.  The canine teeth – the four fangs at the corners of the mouth – are the least likely to fall out.

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What we do for these teeth is give them a little – or a lot – of help.  We cut away the gums and slowly loosen the surrounding periodontal ligament.  This has to be done under anesthesia, but once the tooth comes out it helps relieve crowding and helps the adult canines come in where they are supposed to.  The crazy thing about the roots is that they are as long or longer than the exposed tooth.

A quick note about why we take these teeth out.  If not removed, the teeth will sit so close to the adult canines that they create a lot of dental disease, tartar, and bacterial buildup if not removed.  The other problem as I mentioned above is crowding.  Often, the canines can’t come in at the right location because the baby teeth are in the way.  If they are moved the wrong way, then they can hit other teeth and not allow the mouth to close or can start to jam into the gums or the hard palate.

It is fun to watch the baby teeth fall out as your puppy gets older.  If those sharp puppy teeth don’t fall out by the time your puppy is 4-6 months old, then they aren’t going anywhere and will need some help in making way for the adult teeth.  However, once we get the teeth out we will give them to you for the tooth fairy!

– Doc Cleland

muller01 | College Park Vet Blog

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