Recently we saw Harry, a young schnauzer, for a routine castration. On examination, we found that Harry had a retained right upper baby canine tooth (the far left-hand tooth in the photo). This is a common problem in some breeds of dogs and if untreated can lead to all sorts of problems.
Dogs and cats, just like us, go through two sets of teeth during their life. A set of baby teeth when young and then as they get older the adult teeth erupt. As the adult teeth erupt the baby teeth fall out to make room for them. Generally, all of the adult teeth have erupted, and all the baby teeth gone, soon after 6 months of age.
Sometimes, as had happened with Harry, and for reasons that are poorly understood, the baby tooth does not fall out. This leads to crowding, as there are two teeth in the space where there should be one. If untreated, hair and other debris will get caught between the baby and the adult tooth which then rots leading to periodontal (gum) disease.
Also, the erupting adult tooth gets pushed into an abnormal orientation which can then lead to it hitting other structures in the mouth, which can be painful. In this case, you can see that the erupting adult upper right canine tooth (second tooth from left) is being pushed forward which will lead to it hitting the erupting adult lower canine tooth (third tooth from left).
So after we did the castration procedure on Harry we also extracted the retained baby canine tooth. This will allow the adult upper canine to move into its proper location and thus stop a malocclusion developing as well as preventing periodontal disease.
If you notice that any of your pet’s baby teeth don’t appear to be falling out as the adult teeth are erupting then please don’t hesitate to give us a call so we can have a look and advise the best course of action.