What To Do If My Adult Dog Has A Loose Tooth?

A loose tooth in an adult dog can be a concerning sign that requires veterinary attention. Unlike puppies who lose their baby teeth as adult teeth come in, it is not normal for adult dogs to have loose or lost teeth. A loose tooth in a mature dog indicates an underlying issue such as periodontal disease, injury or infection.

According to research, periodontal disease affects over 80% of dogs by age 3 (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7297050/). The bacteria in plaque buildup causes inflammation and deterioration of the tissues surrounding the tooth. This eventually leads to tooth loosening and potential tooth loss if not treated. Therefore, a loose tooth in an adult dog should not be ignored and requires prompt veterinary examination and treatment.

Causes of Loose Teeth in Dogs

Some common causes of loose teeth in adult dogs include:

Periodontal Disease

Periodontal disease is one of the most common causes of tooth loss in dogs. It occurs when plaque and tartar buildup leads to infection and inflammation of the tissues surrounding the teeth. As periodontal disease advances, it can destroy the underlying bone and cause teeth to loosen and eventually fall out (source).


Injuries to a dog’s mouth, either from playing roughly, chew toys, or accidents, can crack teeth or dislodge them. Trauma such as a dog fight or being hit by a car can also cause teeth to become loose or fall out (source).


Oral tumors and cancers, especially malignant melanoma and squamous cell carcinoma, can invade the bone around teeth and lead to tooth loss. Other signs like swollen gums, bleeding, and bad breath may also be present (source).

Other Oral Health Issues

Other oral diseases in dogs that damage the gums and jaw bone can result in loose teeth. Examples include stomatitis, jaw fractures, and osteomyelitis. Genetic conditions like cleft palate may also predispose some dogs to losing teeth (source).

Signs Your Dog Has a Loose Tooth

There are several signs that may indicate your dog has a loose tooth. The most obvious sign is if you notice a tooth is visibly loose or moving when you inspect your dog’s mouth. A loose tooth may wiggle or shift when touched. You may also notice blood around the loose tooth or red, inflamed gums surrounding the affected tooth. This can occur as the tooth becomes increasingly unstable in the socket.

Bad breath is another common symptom of a loose tooth in dogs. Bacteria accumulates around the affected tooth and gums, leading to an unpleasant odor. Your dog may also have difficulty eating hard food or chewing on toys. The pain and discomfort from the loose tooth can make this difficult. You may notice your dog dropping food from their mouth while eating. Excessive drooling can also occur if your dog has a painful loose tooth.

According to https://www.petmiconnect.com/signs-of-loose-teeth-in-dogs/, other signs include facial swelling, bleeding gums, and loss of appetite. If you observe any of these symptoms, examine your dog’s mouth carefully for loose teeth and contact your veterinarian.

Dangers of a Loose Tooth

A loose tooth can be very dangerous and uncomfortable for your dog. Some of the main dangers and issues associated with a loose tooth include:

Pain – A loose tooth will likely be painful as it wiggles around. The pain can range from mild to severe depending on the cause and extent of damage to the tooth and surrounding structures.

Infection – Bacteria can enter through gaps around the loose tooth and cause a dental infection. This may lead to abscesses or infections spreading to other areas. Infections require antibiotic treatment and can become life-threatening if left untreated according to Bluepet Dog Dentistry in San Jose.

Difficulty eating – Chewing will be difficult and painful with a loose tooth. Your dog may start eating less, only eating soft foods, or dropping food from their mouth. This can lead to malnutrition, weight loss, and other health problems.

Tooth loss – Eventually, a very loose tooth will fall out or need to be extracted. Tooth loss can affect your dog’s chewing and lead to problems in the future if multiple teeth are lost.

It’s important to get prompt veterinary attention for a loose tooth to avoid complications and restore your dog’s comfort and ability to eat properly again.

When to See the Vet

If your dog’s tooth is very loose or causing them pain, you should take them to the vet immediately. A tooth that is dangling or about to fall out can cause your dog great discomfort. Loose teeth are also prone to infection, which can rapidly spread to the bone and other teeth if left untreated. Do not delay veterinary care if the tooth is dangerously loose or your dog is showing signs of pain like whimpering, loss of appetite, or reluctance to chew on that side of their mouth.

For mildly loose teeth that are still firmly in the socket, it is okay to observe your dog for a few days before seeking veterinary care. However, do not wait longer than 2-3 days before having your vet examine it. The sooner a loose tooth is evaluated, the better the chances of saving it. Your vet can determine if the tooth can be stabilized or needs extraction based on factors like gum health, root integrity, and your dog’s overall dental condition. Leaving a loose tooth unchecked allows damage to progress, so prompt veterinary attention gives you the best opportunity to avoid tooth loss.

Diagnosing a Loose Tooth

To properly diagnose a loose tooth, your veterinarian will perform a physical examination of your dog’s mouth. They will visually inspect the tooth, check for abnormalities, and assess the gum health around the area. Dental x-rays may also be taken to evaluate the tooth roots and surrounding bone structure. X-rays allow vets to see below the gumline for a more complete assessment. According to https://bluepet.com/blog/loose-teeth-in-dogs/, dental radiographs are important for determining the health of the tooth’s attachment and whether any infection is present.

If your vet suspects there is an underlying illness or infection causing the loose tooth, they may run bloodwork or other diagnostic tests. This allows them to check for issues like kidney disease, diabetes, or immune disorders that could be contributing factors. Catching and treating any underlying condition is important for both managing the loose tooth and your dog’s overall health.

Treating a Loose Tooth

If your dog has a loose tooth that is severely mobile or causing them pain or difficulty eating, the most common treatment is extraction. According to the Whole Dog Journal, extraction of the tooth under anesthesia will likely be recommended along with antibiotic treatment by your vet.

Antibiotics may be prescribed to treat or prevent any potential infection associated with the loose tooth. The Spruce Pets notes that antibiotics with a probiotic may be given after extraction. Antibiotics help control infection while probiotics maintain good gut bacteria.

Underlying conditions that may be causing loose teeth, like periodontal disease, will also need to be addressed as part of treatment. Proper dental care like brushing, dental treats or chews, and professional cleanings can help improve periodontal health according to ToeGrips.

Caring for Your Dog After Tooth Extraction

After your dog has had a tooth extracted, caring for them properly at home will be important for their recovery. The vet may prescribe pain medication and antibiotics to prevent infection. It’s crucial to follow all medication instructions carefully. You’ll also need to take steps to prevent your dog from chewing on the extraction site as it heals.

Offer your dog soft, moist food for the first few days after extraction. This will prevent pressure on the extraction site while eating. Mash up their kibble with warm water or canned food to soften it. Gradually transition back to their regular diet over the course of a week. Avoid hard chew toys or treats temporarily after extraction as well. Prevent your dog from chewing bedding or furniture to minimize risk of trauma to the area while it heals.

Your vet may prescribe a protective collar to prevent chewing on the extraction site. Ensure your dog wears this at all times when unsupervised during the healing process. Monitor them closely when the collar is off. Distract them with toys or treats if they attempt to lick or chew the area.

Schedule a follow-up appointment with your vet 7-10 days after the tooth extraction to assess healing. Call them right away if you notice ongoing bleeding, foul odor, or difficulty eating. With proper care at home, your dog should recover well from a professional tooth extraction.

Preventing Loose Teeth

There are several things you can do to help prevent your dog from developing loose teeth:

Regular dental cleanings by your veterinarian are important, usually recommended annually. Professional cleanings allow the veterinarian to scale plaque and tartar from beneath the gumline and inspect each tooth thoroughly (Source).

Brushing your dog’s teeth at home is highly recommended, ideally daily. Use a soft toothbrush and dog-safe toothpaste. Brushing helps disrupt plaque before it turns into tartar and can reduce gum inflammation and disease (Source).

Dental treats and chews help scrub your dog’s teeth. Look for products with the VOHC seal from the Veterinary Oral Health Council that are specially designed and tested for dental health (Source).

Addressing any underlying health issues your dog may have, like diabetes or kidney disease, can improve dental health. These diseases can negatively impact the mouth (Source).

When to Seek a Second Opinion

If your dog’s loose tooth doesn’t improve after the initial treatment recommended by your vet, it’s a good idea to seek a second opinion. According to [1], some vets may recommend just letting the tooth fall out on its own. However, other underlying issues could be causing the tooth to become loose, so a second vet’s examination may identify alternative treatment options to try before resorting to extraction.

You should also consider getting a second opinion if multiple teeth become loose within a short period of time. As stated in [2], this may indicate a more serious health condition is present, such as periodontal disease, that needs further diagnosis and treatment. Consulting another vet provides an additional perspective and expertise on how to properly address multiple loose teeth.

Finally, if your vet suspects an underlying illness as the cause of the loose tooth, like kidney disease, getting a second opinion can help confirm the diagnosis and determine the best treatment plan. The vet may recommend focusing on treating the disease first before extracting the tooth. A different vet may provide alternative insights into tests to run or methods to stabilize the tooth while the disease is addressed.

Though tooth extractions are commonly performed procedures, persisting loose teeth or multiple affected teeth warrant a second look. Checking in with another qualified vet ensures all options are explored before removing the tooth/teeth and can uncover hidden health problems to treat.

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