Retained Puppy Teeth – How Long to Wait?


It’s crucial for dog owners to understand the dental health of their pets. One such aspect is retained puppy teeth, a condition where the deciduous, or baby, teeth fail to fall out as the adult teeth come in. This phenomenon is common in puppies and often leaves pet parents with the question of how long they should wait before seeking veterinary intervention.

Understanding the process of deciduous teeth transition in puppies is essential to ensure that the emergence of their adult teeth occurs smoothly. This process, known as exfoliation, typically happens when a puppy is between three and seven months old.

However, complications may arise, like retained puppy teeth, which could lead to a range of oral issues if left untreated. By being informed about the timeline of your puppy’s tooth transition, the signs of retained teeth, and the appropriate actions to take, you can help ensure your pet’s dental health and overall well-being.

Table of Contents

Retained Puppy Teeth – How Long to Wait?

Retained puppy teeth should be examined by a vet as soon as possible. Puppies should have all their baby teeth gone by the time they are six months old. If one or more continue hanging on, it is important to see a vet before damage is done to the permanent teeth. The time of adult tooth eruption is 3-4 months for incisors and 5-6 months for canines.

Veterinary dentists recommend the puppy teeth be extracted as soon as they are noticed to decrease the chances of any damage to the permanent teeth.

Understanding the Process of Puppy Teeth Transition

To properly care for your puppy’s oral health, it’s essential to understand the transition process from deciduous to adult teeth.

A. Description of Deciduous Teeth

Deciduous teeth, commonly known as ‘baby teeth’ or ‘puppy teeth,’ are the first set of teeth that dogs develop. These teeth are temporary and eventually give way to the permanent, adult teeth. They are smaller and not as strong as adult teeth but serve a vital role in your puppy’s early development by helping them learn how to eat solid food and socialize through play-biting.

B. The Timeline of Puppy Teeth Shedding and the Growth of Adult Teeth

The process of puppy teeth shedding usually begins around three to four months of age, with most adult teeth fully grown in by seven months. The deciduous teeth typically start to loosen and fall out to make room for the permanent teeth that push through the gums. If all goes well, the baby teeth will be entirely replaced by adult teeth by the time your puppy is seven to eight months old.

C. Individual Variation and Breed Size Impact on Tooth Transition

It’s important to note that this timeline can vary based on individual puppies and breed sizes. For instance, smaller breeds might experience a quicker tooth transition than larger breeds. Nevertheless, any significant delay or complication during this process warrants a vet’s attention.

D. Dog Breeds that Are Genetically Predisposed to Retained Teeth

Certain breeds, including Pomeranians, Chihuahuas, Pugs, Shih-Tzus, and Bulldogs, are genetically predisposed to have retained puppy teeth. This predisposition means that these breeds have a higher likelihood of their deciduous teeth not falling out when the adult teeth emerge.

If you own a puppy of these breeds, it’s crucial to monitor their tooth transition closely and consult a vet if you notice any irregularities. By understanding this process, you can take prompt action and prevent further dental issues in your puppy.

Tooth Root in Dogs and its Role in Reabsorption

Tooth root plays a crucial role in the normal process of deciduous teeth exfoliation. As the adult tooth grows, it pushes against the root of the deciduous tooth, triggering a process known as reabsorption. This process gradually dissolves the root, loosening the baby tooth and allowing it to fall out.

However, if reabsorption doesn’t occur or is incomplete, the deciduous tooth may remain rooted, leading to a condition called retained puppy teeth.

Causes of Retained Puppy Teeth

Retained puppy teeth can lead to numerous oral issues if left untreated. Understanding the causes and symptoms can help you catch these issues early and seek the necessary intervention.

Several factors can interfere with the normal tooth transition process, resulting in retained puppy teeth. These include:

  1. Abnormal Jaw Development: Some breeds, especially small breed dogs, may experience abnormal jaw development that doesn’t provide enough space for the adult teeth to grow properly. This lack of space can lead to crowding and retained deciduous teeth.
  2. Weakened Enamel: Enamel is the protective outer layer of the tooth. If it’s weakened or damaged, the deciduous teeth may not shed properly, leading to retention.
  3. Genetic Predisposition: As previously noted, certain breeds have a genetic predisposition to retained teeth.

Symptoms of Retained Puppy Teeth

Identifying the symptoms of retained puppy teeth is key to seeking timely treatment. These symptoms include:

  1. Crowding: This condition occurs when there’s not enough space in the mouth for all the teeth. Crowding can cause the teeth to overlap, rotate, or become crooked.
  2. Malposition: Malposition refers to teeth growing in the wrong direction or in the incorrect position, which can cause discomfort and improper bite.
  3. Other Oral Issues: Additional signs of retained puppy teeth can include inflammation, difficulty chewing, bad breath, and increased salivation. You might also notice your puppy pawing at their mouth or exhibiting discomfort while eating.

If you notice any of these symptoms in your puppy, it’s crucial to seek veterinary care promptly to prevent further complications.

Problems and Risks Associated with Untreated Retained Puppy Teeth

Ignoring retained puppy teeth can lead to a variety of complications, ranging from oral discomfort to serious health issues. Recognizing these risks can help dog parents seek necessary veterinary care in a timely manner.

When the baby teeth are retained, it can cause several issues, such as:

  1. Improper Bite: Retained teeth can lead to an abnormal bite, which may result in difficulty eating, pain, and even changes in facial structure over time.
  2. Tartar Buildup: Overcrowded or misaligned teeth provide more crevices for plaque and bacteria to accumulate, leading to tartar buildup.
  3. Periodontal Disease: This is a serious gum disease that can lead to inflammation, bleeding, loose or missing teeth, and severe pain. If left untreated, periodontal disease can even lead to heart, liver, and kidney issues.

Serious Health Complications Due to Untreated Retained Puppy Teeth

Retained puppy teeth can lead to the following serious health complications:

  1. Gingival Inflammation: This involves swelling and redness of the gums, often coupled with discomfort and possible bleeding.
  2. Difficulty Chewing: An abnormal bite or overcrowded teeth may make chewing painful or difficult.
  3. Bad Breath: Decay and periodontal disease caused by retained teeth can lead to persistent bad breath.
  4. Double Row of Teeth: Retained baby teeth alongside adult teeth can create a ‘double row’ of teeth, leading to overcrowding and related issues.
  5. Increased Salivation: This could be a sign of oral discomfort or difficulty swallowing due to retained teeth.

Other Dental Problems in Dogs Due to Retained Puppy Teeth

Retained teeth can cause an array of dental problems, including tooth decay, gum disease, overcrowding, and misalignment. In severe cases, these problems may necessitate orthodontic treatment to correct the issues and restore your pet’s dental health. A dental exam by a professional veterinarian can help assess the severity of these issues and determine the best treatment plan.

Regular Check-ups and Dental Examinations

Maintaining the oral health of your puppy involves consistent check-ups and comprehensive dental examinations. This preventative approach can help catch potential issues early, making treatment more manageable and less invasive.

A. Regular Mouth Examinations in Identifying Dental Problems

Regular mouth examinations can help identify signs of oral health issues like inflammation, bleeding, loose or missing teeth. If your dog shows signs of discomfort while eating or toys show signs of blood, a check-up is in order. Regular examinations by pet owners can be a valuable first line of defense in catching oral health issues early.

B. The Need for Dental Exams for an Accurate Treatment Plan

A professional dental examination by a veterinarian is crucial for an accurate treatment plan. They can identify less obvious signs of oral health issues and use specialized equipment to get a comprehensive view of your pet’s oral health. This allows them to create a treatment plan tailored to your pet’s specific needs.

C. Veterinary Care for Preventing Dental Issues

Veterinary care plays a significant role in preventing dental issues. Regular check-ups, vaccinations, and advice on diet and oral hygiene can all contribute to maintaining your pet’s oral health. Veterinarians can also offer advice on what to look for in-home examinations and provide early intervention when issues arise.

D. Preventive Care, Medical History, Dental Records, and X-Rays

Preventive care, including regular brushing and the use of dental chew toys, can help keep your pet’s mouth healthy. Additionally, keeping track of your pet’s medical history and dental records can provide valuable information about their oral health over time.

X-rays, in particular, can reveal problems beneath the gum line that might otherwise go unnoticed. Regular use of these tools can help catch problems early and keep your pet’s mouth healthy.

Treatment of Retained Puppy Teeth

Dealing with retained puppy teeth necessitates a multi-faceted approach. It may involve surgical interventions, home care, and the involvement of a professional dentist.

A. Surgical Interventions

Extraction of retained puppy teeth is a common surgical intervention performed under anesthesia. This procedure is generally safe and can prevent future oral health problems.

Neutering or spaying is often the right time for extraction as the puppy is already under anesthesia. In more complex cases, orthodontic appliances may be necessary to guide the growth and alignment of adult teeth.

B. Tooth Extraction Process in Dogs

The extraction process involves removing the retained tooth and ensuring that no root fragments remain that could cause future problems. Anesthetic considerations will be based on the overall health of your puppy.

Risks, although minimal, include reactions to anesthesia and post-operative infection.

As for the costs, they can vary widely depending on the complexity of the extraction and the need for additional procedures like X-rays or antibiotics. Pet insurance can significantly reduce these costs, so it is worth considering for all pet owners.

C. Understanding the Process and The Importance of Pulling Puppy Teeth at Home

Pulling puppy teeth at home is not recommended. Deciduous teeth that are loose may fall out during regular chewing activities, but any attempt to extract teeth at home can cause pain and potentially lead to infection or other complications. Instead, monitoring and regular dental check-ups should be the preferred approach.

D. The Role of Professional Dentist in Maintaining Dental Health

A professional dentist is an essential figure in maintaining your puppy’s dental health. They have the knowledge and experience to spot and treat issues that may not be obvious to pet owners. Regular visits will ensure your puppy’s teeth are developing correctly and any issues are addressed promptly. This proactive care can prevent many dental problems down the line.

Prevention of Retained Puppy Teeth and Maintenance

Preventing retained puppy teeth and maintaining oral health requires a combination of at-home care and professional veterinary intervention. Here are some best practices that every pet owner should adopt.

A. Maintaining Dental Hygiene

Maintaining dental hygiene in your puppy is crucial. Regular brushing of your puppy’s teeth helps in reducing tartar buildup and promotes healthy gums. Use puppy-specific toothpaste and brushes designed for their small mouths.

Providing chew toys also contributes to dental health. As your puppy chews, the toy helps remove plaque from their teeth. It also provides a healthy outlet for their natural chewing instinct, reducing the risk of destructive behavior.

Nutrition also plays a significant role in dental health. A balanced, nutritious diet supports overall health, including the teeth and gums. Consult with your vet to ensure your puppy is receiving all the necessary nutrients.

B. Importance of Regular Check-ups for Prevention and Maintenance of Oral Health

Regular veterinary check-ups are a crucial component of oral health maintenance. Your vet can spot issues that might be missed at home and can provide professional dental cleanings. These visits should occur at least once a year, though puppies may require more frequent check-ups.

C. The Role of a Healthy Diet in Promoting Oral Hygiene

A healthy diet isn’t just good for your puppy’s overall health – it also promotes good oral hygiene. Certain foods can help clean your puppy’s teeth as they eat. For instance, dry kibble can reduce plaque and tartar buildup. It’s also important to provide a diet that contains all the necessary nutrients to support tooth and gum health.

D. Interceptive Orthodontics and Its Benefits

Interceptive orthodontics refers to treatments that are used to correct potential oral issues before they become serious problems. This could include extracting retained deciduous teeth to allow the proper eruption of permanent teeth. By acting early, interceptive orthodontics can prevent more serious issues like overcrowding and malalignment, and the associated problems these conditions can cause. It is best to consult your vet if you think your puppy might benefit from interceptive orthodontics.

Can Retained Puppy Teeth Cause Green Poop in Newborn Puppies?

Retained puppy teeth can contribute to green poop in newborn puppies. This condition occurs when baby teeth don’t fall out naturally, causing inadequate digestion and absorption of nutrients. The resulting digestive issues can lead to abnormal stool color, such as green poop, in these young canines. Veterinary attention is advised to address this problem promptly.


In conclusion, the journey of your puppy’s dental transition from deciduous to permanent teeth can pose challenges, particularly if they experience retained puppy teeth. The process, influenced by individual variations and breed size, requires vigilant monitoring for any signs of abnormality.

The importance of regular dental exams and professional veterinary care cannot be overstated in preventing and treating these dental issues.

Home-based preventive care, along with a balanced diet and proper oral hygiene habits, can significantly contribute to your puppy’s dental health. As pet owners, understanding and navigating these complexities will ensure your pup grows into a healthy adult dog with a strong and resilient set of teeth.

Frequently Asked Questions

What signs should I look for to know if my puppy’s teeth are transitioning properly?

Look out for the standard signs of teething such as drooling, gum redness, and a desire to chew more than usual. However, be alert to symptoms like refusing to eat, excessive crying, or visible double rows of teeth, which may indicate issues like retained puppy teeth.

Are there any specific breeds more prone to dental problems?

While small breed dogs like Pomeranians, Chihuahuas, and Bulldogs are particularly prone to retained puppy teeth, other breeds like Yorkshire Terriers, Maltese, and Cocker Spaniels also tend to have dental problems. Each breed has unique dental needs and predispositions, so it’s important to research your specific breed’s oral health tendencies.

How often should I brush my puppy’s teeth to maintain their dental health?

It’s recommended to brush your puppy’s teeth daily if possible. However, if daily brushing isn’t feasible, aim for at least three times a week. Regular brushing can prevent plaque and tartar build-up and promote healthier gums. Always use a toothpaste formulated for dogs.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.