Help! My Dog’s Tooth Fell Out – What Should I Do?

Why Dogs Lose Teeth

Dogs can lose teeth for a variety of reasons throughout their lives. The most common reasons dogs lose teeth are:

Puppies lose their deciduous (baby) teeth as their adult teeth grow in. Puppies begin losing their baby teeth around 12-16 weeks of age. By 5-7 months old, puppies should have all of their adult teeth.1

Adult dogs can lose permanent teeth due to periodontal disease, which is inflammation and infection of the structures that support the teeth. Periodontal disease is the most common cause of tooth loss in adult dogs. It develops from built-up plaque and tartar on the teeth. Small breed dogs are especially prone to periodontal disease.2

Trauma or injury, such as being hit by a car or bitten hard on a toy, can also cause a dog to lose permanent teeth. Fractured teeth may need to be extracted if the pulp is exposed.

Less common causes of tooth loss include abnormalities in tooth development, tumors or cysts in the mouth, and immune-mediated disease.

Signs Your Dog Has Lost a Tooth

There are several signs that indicate your dog may have lost a tooth. The most obvious sign is a missing tooth that is visible when you inspect your dog’s mouth. You may notice a large gap where a tooth used to be. According to https://wagwalking.com/condition/loss-of-teeth, other signs of a lost tooth in dogs include:

  • Blood around the gumline or tooth area
  • Excessive drooling, sometimes with blood present
  • Difficulty eating or trouble chewing
  • Swollen, inflamed, or red gums
  • dog with swollen red gums due to tooth infection

Your dog may show signs of pain or discomfort when eating hard kibble. Soft or wet food may be easier for them to chew and swallow. Excessive drooling, especially with blood present, indicates your dog may have an injury or infection related to the lost tooth that requires veterinary attention. If you notice any of these signs, inspect your dog’s mouth carefully for missing teeth and schedule a veterinary exam.

Dangers of Lost Teeth in Dogs

Lost teeth can pose several dangers and risks to a dog’s health and wellbeing. One major concern is damage to the jaw bone and improper jaw alignment. According to WagWalking, when a tooth is lost, the underlying bone that held the tooth in place can weaken and deteriorate over time without the tooth for support. This can alter the alignment of the remaining teeth and affect chewing and biting ability.

Another potential danger is infection. As explained by BluePet, the open tooth socket where the lost tooth used to be located can provide an entry point for bacteria. This introduces the risk of infections like abscesses, which are pockets of pus and inflammation. Infections can not only be painful for the dog, but also spread to other areas.

Additionally, lost teeth increase the likelihood of further tooth loss. The altered chewing and infection risks mean remaining teeth experience increased strain and are more prone to plaque buildup, tartar, gum disease and eventual tooth loss. This can start a vicious cycle leading to deterioration of the dog’s oral health.

When to See the Vet

If your puppy loses a primary tooth prematurely or an adult tooth falls out for no apparent reason, it’s a good idea to schedule a veterinary visit. According to the American Kennel Club, you should contact your vet if:

Losing multiple teeth in a short period of time is also cause for concern. The BluePearl Pet Hospital recommends bringing your dog in if they loose more than 1 tooth per month.

Signs that a lost tooth may be infected or causing pain include:

  • Swelling around the jaw or gumline
  • Reluctance to eat hard food or chew toys
  • Pawing at the mouth
  • Bad breath
  • Discharge from the empty tooth socket

If you notice any of these symptoms along with a missing tooth, take your dog to the vet right away for treatment.

Diagnosing a Lost Tooth

If you notice your dog has lost a tooth or is showing signs of dental issues like bad breath or difficulty eating, it’s important to take them to the veterinarian for a proper diagnosis. The vet will perform an oral exam to inspect the mouth and identify any missing, damaged, or infected teeth.

vet performing oral exam on dog

They may also take dental x-rays to get a closer look at the tooth roots and surrounding bone structure. X-rays allow the vet to check for any retained root fragments, bone damage, or abnormal growths https://wagwalking.com/condition/loss-of-teeth.

During the oral exam, the vet will check for signs of pain or discomfort when examining the mouth. They will also assess the health of the gums and look for any loose teeth, redness, swelling, or discharge, which could indicate an infection. The vet will determine if the tooth loss was traumatic or related to periodontal disease.

In addition to visually inspecting the mouth, the vet will evaluate if there is any damage to the jaw or bone structure. This is especially important if the tooth was lost due to an injury. Fractured jaw bones may require surgical repair and antibiotics to treat infection.

Treating a Lost Tooth in Dogs

If your dog loses a tooth, your veterinarian may recommend treatment to prevent complications and discomfort. Some common treatments for lost teeth in dogs include:

Antibiotics – If the tooth was lost due to an infection or abscess, your vet may prescribe antibiotics to clear up any remaining infection in the socket and prevent further spread. Antibiotics like clindamycin or amoxicillin may be used.

Pain Medication – Dogs can experience pain and discomfort after losing a tooth. Your vet may prescribe pain medications like carprofen, meloxicam, or tramadol to relieve pain as the socket heals. These help keep your dog comfortable during recovery.

Dental Extraction – If your dog loses a tooth that is loose or fractured, the vet may recommend extracting the remaining root. This prevents infection and damage to surrounding teeth and tissues. Your dog will be sedated or put under anesthesia for safe extraction.

Jaw Bone Graft – If your dog loses multiple teeth or the entire tooth including the roots, the jaw bone may start to deteriorate. Your vet may recommend a bone graft to stimulate bone regrowth and prevent issues. This involves taking bone from another part of your dog’s body and implanting it into the jaw.

Treating the underlying cause of a lost tooth is important for your dog’s comfort and long-term dental health. Work closely with your vet to determine the right treatment approach. See the source for more details: https://wagwalking.com/condition/loss-of-teeth

Caring for Your Dog After Tooth Loss

Taking proper care of your dog after they lose a tooth is crucial for their health and comfort during recovery. Here are some tips for caring for your dog after tooth extraction or natural tooth loss:

Feed a soft food diet for 7-10 days after tooth loss. Canned dog food or softened kibble will reduce irritation of the extraction sites as they heal. Gradually transition back to their normal diet as the gums toughen up.[1]

feeding dog soft food after tooth extraction

Avoid toys and chews that could damage the tender gums, like bones, antlers, and rubber toys. Stick to soft toys only while your dog is healing.[2]

Gently brush the remaining teeth daily, being careful around healing extraction sites. Use a soft-bristled brush and dog-safe toothpaste.[3]

Schedule regular dental cleanings every 6-12 months depending on your vet’s recommendation. Keeping the other teeth clean will help prevent further tooth loss.

Preventing Additional Tooth Loss

There are several steps dog owners can take to help prevent their dog from losing more teeth:

Daily tooth brushing is the most effective way to keep your dog’s teeth and gums healthy. Brushing removes plaque and bacteria before it can build up and cause dental disease. Use a toothpaste formulated for dogs and a soft bristle toothbrush. Take care to gently brush along the gumline as this is where plaque accumulates.

Dental chews can also help clean your dog’s teeth. Look for treats and chews that carry the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC) Seal of Approval. The mechanical action of chewing scrapes away plaque and tartar. VOHC products have been tested to show efficacy in cleaning teeth. Offer dental chews in moderation as too much hard chewing can damage teeth.

Professional dental cleanings allow the veterinarian to scale away calculus above and below the gumline and polish the teeth. Cleanings are usually recommended once a year. More frequent cleanings may be advised for dogs prone to severe tartar buildup.

Addressing periodontal disease is crucial in preventing tooth loss. Periodontal disease damages the gums and bone structure supporting the teeth. Regular veterinary dental exams allow early detection and treatment. Signs of periodontal disease include bad breath, red or swollen gums, and loose teeth. Treatment may include dental x-rays, deep cleaning under the gums, antibiotics, and tooth extractions.

With diligent at-home dental care and professional cleanings, dog owners can help protect their pet’s teeth and prevent the need for tooth extractions.

Prognosis After Tooth Loss in Dogs

The prognosis for a dog who has lost a tooth is generally excellent with proper treatment and prevention of further tooth loss. According to veterinary experts at Cornell University, once the infected or damaged tooth is extracted, the inflammation and pain will resolve and healing can begin (source). Most dogs recover very well from professional dental cleanings and extractions.

However, it’s important to understand that permanent tooth loss can lead to bone loss in the jaw over time. According to Lake Cross Veterinary Hospital, missing teeth reduce the stimulation of the jawbone that normally occurs during eating and chewing (source). This may eventually cause the bone to weaken or deteriorate. That’s why ongoing dental care and prevention of further tooth loss is essential for dogs who have lost one or more teeth already.

When to Extract a Tooth in Dogs

There are several situations when a veterinarian may recommend extracting one or more of your dog’s teeth:

Severe periodontal disease: If the tissues and bone supporting your dog’s teeth are severely infected, damaged, or deteriorating, extraction may be necessary. Periodontal disease is painful and can spread harmful bacteria throughout the body. According to Castle Creek Animal Clinic, extractions are commonly needed once periodontal disease progresses past a certain point.

extracting severely infected tooth in dog

Fractured/damaged tooth: If your dog fractures or chips a tooth, leaving the pulp exposed, a vet will likely recommend extraction to prevent infection and relieve pain. Dogs may damage teeth by chewing on hard objects or teeth may crack due to trauma.

Resorptive lesions: These inflammatory lesions in the tooth and jawbone are common in dogs. They are very painful and cause progressive destruction, ultimately requiring extraction according to ToeGrips.

Supernumerary teeth: Extra nonfunctional teeth in the mouth often need to be removed to prevent complications like crowding, retains baby teeth, and cysts.

Orthodontic malocclusion: In some cases, crooked teeth or incorrect bite alignment requires extracting certain problem teeth.

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