Why Remove Deciduous Teeth In Dogs?

Deciduous teeth, also known as milk teeth or baby teeth, are the first set of temporary teeth that erupt in puppies around 3-4 weeks of age. Like in human children, these deciduous teeth are eventually replaced by the dog’s permanent adult teeth as the puppy grows. Deciduous teeth serve an important purpose during puppyhood by aiding in chewing and supporting proper jaw alignment while the adult teeth develop. However, the deciduous teeth are meant to fall out naturally as the adult teeth emerge. If the deciduous teeth do not fall out on their own, they will need to be surgically extracted by a veterinarian to make room for the permanent teeth and prevent oral health issues. Retained deciduous teeth can lead to malocclusion, crowding, and periodontal disease if left in place too long. Therefore, it’s recommended to monitor your puppy’s teeth regularly and have any retained deciduous teeth removed once their permanent replacements have partially erupted.

Puppy Teeth

Puppies go through several stages of teeth growth and eruption starting from birth up until around 7 months old when their adult teeth are fully emerged. The stages according to the American Kennel Club are:

  • Birth to 3 Weeks: No teeth are present as puppies are born toothless.
  • 3 to 4 Weeks: Incisors start erupting. These are the small front teeth.
  • 4 to 6 Weeks: Canines, premolars, and molars start coming in. The upper canines usually erupt first.
  • 6 to 8 Weeks: All of the deciduous (baby) teeth should be fully erupted by 8 weeks of age.
  • 12 to 16 Weeks: The incisors begin loosening and falling out as the permanent adult incisors start emerging.
  • 4 to 7 Months: The canines, premolars, and molars are gradually replaced by permanent adult teeth.
  • 6 Months and Older: By 7 months old, all of the adult teeth should be fully erupted and in place.

The puppy teething process lasts from around 3 to 7 months old. According to DogseeChew, the stages can also be grouped as:

  • 2 to 4 Weeks: Incisors emerge first.
  • 5 to 8 Weeks: Canines, premolars, and molars erupt.
  • 12 to 16 Weeks: Incisors start falling out as adult incisors emerge.
  • 16 to 32 Weeks: Canines, premolars and molars are replaced.

Why Remove Deciduous Teeth

Removing deciduous teeth serves an important purpose for a puppy’s oral health and development. While puppy teeth eventually fall out on their own as the permanent teeth erupt, vets recommend proactively removing them instead of waiting. There are several key reasons for this:

First, allowing deciduous teeth to remain in place once the permanent teeth start pushing through can lead to overcrowding. Both sets of teeth trying to fit in the mouth at once crowds the space and puts pressure on the permanent teeth attempting to come in properly. This can force teeth to erupt at incorrect angles or retain fragments of the roots of the deciduous teeth.

In addition, the presence of both sets of teeth increases the risk of misalignment. The emerging permanent teeth may get shifted out of position if they hit against the deciduous teeth while erupting. Even if the permanent teeth eventually push out the deciduous teeth, damage can already be done in terms of improper alignment and bite issues.

Finally, leaving the deciduous teeth in place raises the likelihood of retained root fragments. As the permanent teeth erupt, they put pressure on the roots of the deciduous teeth which can cause the roots to partially break off and become embedded in the gum and bone tissue. These retained root pieces can lead to dental disease and prevent the permanent teeth from fully erupting into proper position.

Therefore, proactively extracting the deciduous teeth at the appropriate time enables the permanent teeth to erupt smoothly into ideal alignment and position. This prevents many future dental complications in the long run.

When to Remove Deciduous Teeth

The ideal window for removing a puppy’s deciduous teeth is generally between 4-6 months old. According to the VCA Hospitals, most puppies will begin to lose their deciduous teeth around 3-4 months old as the permanent adult teeth begin to erupt. Typically, all of the deciduous teeth should be naturally pushed out by the emerging permanent teeth by the time the puppy is 6 months old.

Therefore, the 4-6 month age range is the prime time to remove any retained deciduous teeth before the permanent teeth are fully erupted. This prevents the permanent teeth from erupting in the wrong direction and promotes proper dental alignment. Waiting too long past 6 months can make surgical extraction more complicated and expensive.

Signs It’s Time

There are several signs indicating it’s time to remove a puppy’s deciduous teeth. The most obvious sign is when deciduous teeth become loose but do not naturally fall out. Puppies begin teething around 3-4 months old, and their deciduous teeth should fall out on their own by approximately 6 months old as the permanent adult teeth emerge. If the deciduous teeth remain past 6-7 months of age, it likely indicates a problem.

According to this article, retained deciduous teeth can prevent the proper alignment and growth of permanent teeth. This is known as malocclusion and can lead to oral health problems. Signs of malocclusion due to retained deciduous teeth include visible crowding or abnormal positioning of permanent teeth. The puppy may also have difficulty biting or chewing. Foul breath and visible swelling around the gums can also occur if infection sets in around the retained deciduous teeth.

Overall, if a puppy’s deciduous teeth are loose past 6 months of age or not falling out on their own to make room for the permanent teeth, it’s a sign veterinary extraction is needed. Monitoring your puppy’s teething timeline and being attentive to signs of malocclusion can ensure issues are addressed promptly.

Risks of Not Removing

Deciduous teeth that are not removed by 6 months of age can lead to several health risks for dogs. The most common risks include:

Crowding

If deciduous teeth are not removed, permanent adult teeth may erupt in abnormal positions or become impacted against retained deciduous teeth. This can lead to severe crowding and misalignment of the teeth (VCAA).

Misalignment

Retained deciduous teeth prevent permanent teeth from moving into the correct position in the mouth and jaw. The bite alignment will be abnormal, which can lead to issues with chewing and future dental disease (WagWalking).

Infection

Bacteria and food debris easily become trapped between improperly aligned teeth. This can cause gum infection, tooth decay, and periodontal disease. Infection may also spread to the permanent tooth buds under the gums.

Retained Roots

Sometimes the crown of a deciduous tooth falls out, but the root remains embedded in the jaw bone. These retained roots prevent permanent teeth from erupting and can become abscessed over time.

Removal Procedure

The removal of deciduous teeth in dogs is typically performed by a veterinarian under anesthesia. The procedure involves the following steps:

First, the dog is put under general anesthesia so they are fully sedated during the extraction process. This ensures the procedure is painless and minimizes stress for the dog.

Next, the area around the tooth is disinfected and numbed with a local anesthetic injection. The vet will then use a dental elevator instrument to loosen the tooth from the socket and gently remove it.

If any tooth roots remain in the socket, the vet will carefully elevate them until fully extracted. Extensive elevators or forceps may be used for stubborn roots. X-rays are taken during the procedure to ensure full removal.

Once extracted, the vet will flush the socket to remove any remaining debris. The area is then closed with stitches that will dissolve over time as the socket heals. Additional medications may be prescribed for pain or infection prevention.

According to Today’s Veterinary Practice, an open extraction technique is often used for visible root tips on x-rays. This involves retracting the gums and surgically removing the root tip.

Aftercare

After a dog’s deciduous teeth are removed, proper aftercare is crucial for healing. Here are some tips for caring for your pup post-procedure:

Wound Care

The extraction sites will be tender and may bleed slightly the first day. Apply light pressure with a clean cloth or gauze if bleeding occurs. Keep the area clean by gently wiping with saltwater or an oral rinse prescribed by your veterinarian.

Avoid letting your dog chew on hard toys or bones while healing, which could reopen wounds. Stick to soft foods and toys. Watch for signs of infection like persistent bleeding, swelling, or discharge.

Diet Changes

Feed softer foods for 3-5 days after extractions. Wet food, broth, mashed vegetables and grains are gentler options. Avoid large chunks or hard kibble that could get lodged in extraction sites.

Add some water to dry food to soften it or try mixing in a little canned food. Avoid frozen foods or treats, which can be uncomfortable on sore gums.

Recovery Timeline

Your dog should begin feeling better within 24 hours after surgery. Swelling around surgical sites usually resolves within 3-4 days.

By 5-7 days post-op, your dog should be back to normal eating. Within 2 weeks, extraction sites should be completely healed. Adult teeth will continue to erupt over the next several weeks.

Call your vet if you notice signs of complications like excessive bleeding, pain, or difficulty eating. With proper aftercare, your pup will have a smooth recovery period.

Costs

The cost of professionally extracting deciduous teeth in dogs can vary quite a bit depending on the specific situation. According to https://betterpet.com, a simple, non-emergency extraction during a routine cleaning may cost on the lower end of the $500-$2,500 range. However, if the dog has significant damage, infection, or other complications, the price could be upwards of $2,500 or more.

Some factors that influence the extraction cost include:

  • Number of teeth being extracted
  • Level of difficulty/complexity
  • Need for x-rays or other diagnostics
  • Extent of infection or damage to the tooth
  • Whether it’s an emergency vs routine procedure
  • Use of anesthesia and pain medication
  • Your geographic location and the vet’s rates

According to https://www.reddit.com/r/puppy101/comments/trfufg/how_much_should_a_tooth_extraction_cost_for_a/, some dog owners have reported paying $500-600 for a single tooth extraction, while others paid $1,800 or more for multiple extractions. It’s a good idea to get an estimate from your vet before proceeding.

Conclusion

The removal of deciduous or puppy teeth serves an important purpose for a dog’s health and development. While puppy teeth naturally fall out over time as adult teeth emerge, the vet may recommend removal of retained deciduous teeth to prevent issues like crowding, misalignment, and dental disease. Removing retained puppy teeth allows the permanent adult teeth to properly come in and provide the dog with a healthy bite and full ability to chew and eat as an adult. This minor procedure, done at the right time under anesthesia, prevents oral health issues down the line. Allowing a young dog’s mouth to fully transition to adult teeth will give them comfort, function and the best oral health starting out in their adult life.

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