Just like humans, pets also have baby teeth! But if these baby teeth haven’t fallen out, despite the adult teeth pushing their way through, this can lead to some dental problems. Persistent deciduous teeth, or baby teeth that refuse to fall out, can cause many difficulties with your pet’s permanent dentition and also can harm their oral health. This dental issue most frequently occurs in small-breed and flat-faced dogs, and rarely in cats. In these pets, the upper canines are most commonly seen still in place, followed by lower canines and incisors. Read on to learn more about the problems that persistent deciduous teeth can cause in pets.
#1: Persistent deciduous teeth trap plaque and tartar
Since persistent deciduous teeth are in the location the adult teeth should occupy, all the teeth are packed in too tightly, which allows food and bacteria to easily become trapped. You’ll notice plaque and tartar buildup around these teeth much sooner than around your pet’s other teeth, which is why extraction is recommended as soon as possible to ward off dental disease.
#2: Persistent deciduous teeth can cause trauma to soft tissues and other teeth
Stubborn baby teeth can push the adult teeth into unnatural positions, causing them to poke the soft palate or the tongue as your pet chews or closes their mouth. Poorly positioned teeth can also inappropriately contact other teeth, leading to abnormal wear and tooth weakening, with subsequent tooth fracture.
#3: Persistent deciduous teeth can cause dental interlock
Too many teeth in the wrong position can interlock when your pet shuts their mouth or chews, which can interfere with the jaw’s normal growth and development.
Since this issue most commonly occurs in small-breed dogs, we generally recommend extraction when they are spayed or neutered, to allow ample time for the teeth to fall out on their own, and to limit the damage caused by persistent deciduous teeth. If you have any questions, please contact us.