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Retained teeth in dog

The essentials

  • Dogs will go through two sets of teeth in their lifetime — Puppies typically have 28 deciduous teeth, and adults have 42 permanent teeth.
  • A retained tooth is a baby tooth that’s still present even though the adult tooth has fully emerged through the gum — Sometimes, baby teeth just don’t fall out!
  • They’re common in small dog breeds — Retained teeth are usually seen in small dogs and brachycephalic breeds.
  • Retained teeth should be removed — They may cause permanent tooth displacement. This can lead to abnormal teeth alignment, tartar buildup between the baby and adult tooth, food entrapment, and periodontal disease.

What are retained deciduous teeth? 

Sometimes retained deciduous teeth, also known as baby teeth, in young dogs don’t fall out. The most common retained tooth is the upper canine. According to Dr. Michelle Diener, DVM, “A deciduous tooth should loosen up and fall out as the adult tooth emerges through the gum and pushes against it. However, sometimes the adult tooth erupts through the gum next to the deciduous tooth.”

“When these teeth are next to each other, it causes crowding of the teeth and leads to tartar accumulation and the entrapment of food. If tartar or food builds up enough between a deciduous and adult tooth, it will cause the gum to recede and the roots of the teeth to become exposed, which can lead to tooth mobility and tooth root abscesses,” Dr. Diener explains.

👉 Abnormally-positioned permanent teeth are a major sign and your dog should see a vet immediately if you notice this happening. 

The puppy teething timeline

Dogs’ baby teeth begin to break through their gum line around three weeks, and puppy teeth are very sharp! This first set of teeth usually falls out between 15 to 24 weeks of age. Puppies normally have around 28 deciduous teeth. At around 4 months of age , a puppy’s baby teeth are replaced by adult teeth. As the adult teeth become visible, the baby teeth begin to fall out of a dog’s mouth. Once puppies lose all their deciduous teeth, most adult dogs will have 42 teeth.

Which deciduous teeth are more commonly retained?

The most common retained teeth in dogs are the upper canines, third molars, and lower second premolars. According to VCA Hospitals, “There may also be a genetic predisposition to developing persistent primary teeth as it often occurs in families of dogs.”

They’re most common in small breeds

Retained teeth in small breeds and brachycephalic breeds are very common. These breeds include dogs with short noses and flat faces like American bulldogs, boxers, pugs, and Boston terriers. When two teeth are in the same place, the retained puppy teeth need to be removed.

Signs of retained teeth in puppies

According to Dr. Diener, “All adult teeth should be present at 6 months of age. Usually retained deciduous teeth are removed during a spay or neuter at 6 to 7 months of age, especially if they’re not loose. Occasionally, a retained deciduous tooth will still be present at 6 months of age but be very loose.” These are the signs to look out for in addition to a row of double teeth:

  • Halitosis or bad breath
  • You see two teeth in the same place
  • Abnormally-positioned adult teeth
  • Swollen, red gums around the area
  • Oronasal fistula

These loose deciduous teeth likely will fall out on their own within the next couple of weeks, but they can also be easily extracted to ensure that they don’t remain and cause periodontal disease.

Dr. Michelle Diener


What happens if you leave the baby teeth?

A double set of teeth also means your dog has a double set of roots. This may prevent the tooth socket from developing normally . Your dog’s retained baby teeth may also cause oral health issues such as:

  • Affecting alignment of the teeth
  • Bad breath and periodontal disease
  • Teeth becoming overcrowded in the mouth
  • Food becoming trapped between teeth

How are retained teeth removed?

If you suspect any signs of a retained tooth in your dog, it’s essential to take them to the vet. Your dog’s veterinarian will examine their mouth. Retained baby teeth need to be removed as soon as possible to prevent damage to the dog’s adult tooth. This is a simple dental procedure and a veterinarian can do it when your puppy needs to be spayed or neutered.

Puppy teething tips

Pet owners can try to help those puppy teeth fall out by giving their dogs carrots, dental chews,  trachea chews, and other human food like apples. Never pull out your dog’s teeth, even if you feel a loose tooth! Also, puppy biting is normal and an important part of the teething process. This is a sign that your dog is starting to lose those sharp baby teeth.

Frequently asked questions

Do retained puppy teeth need to be removed?

Yes! A double set of teeth means your dog has a double set of roots. This may prevent the tooth socket from developing typically. Also, never leave your dog’s baby teeth in as it may cause oral health issues.

When should I worry about retained puppy teeth?

You should be concerned if your puppy has a double set of teeth and you’re seeing the following signs: halitosis or bad breath, two teeth in the same place, abnormally-positioned adult teeth, and swollen, red gums around the area.

How much does it cost to remove retained puppy teeth?

It depends on the hospital, but usually, it’s an inexpensive fee of $20-30 to extract retained deciduous teeth. But, if there are many retained deciduous teeth, then it will cost pet parents more. This charge is usually combined with a spay or neuter. Dental x-rays are usually not needed.

Are retained puppy teeth bad?

Yes. If you suspect any signs of a retained tooth in your dog, it’s important to take them to the vet. Your veterinarian will examine your dog’s mouth. Retained baby teeth need to be removed as soon as possible to prevent damage to the dog’s adult tooth.