Should Retained Baby Teeth Be Extracted?

You may open your puppy or kitten’s mouth and realize they have a bunch of extra teeth. Why is that? Well as the adult teeth start to erupt in the mouth, they are supposed to push the baby (deciduous) teeth out. Sometimes the baby teeth stay wedged in and don’t get pushed out like they are supposed to. 

What should you do?  Do not try to pull the baby teeth out yourself. You may accidentally pull out healthy adult teeth. If you don’t properly extract the baby tooth then you may leave behind some of the root. This can also cause an infection and/or impaction. It may even affect and permanently damage the adult teeth near it.

Why not just leave the baby teeth in? Leaving the baby teeth in will cause crowding, which can affect how the adult teeth come in. It can cause impaction of the adult teeth, and cause the adults to erupt in the mouth crooked or where they are not supposed to be. The extra crowding in the mouth will accumulate more tartar and build up, causing all the surrounding teeth and gums to develop dental disease. 

When your pet is ready to be spayed or neutered around 6 months of age, we recommend examining the mouth to check for retained baby teeth.  We can properly extract the baby teeth at that time while they are already under anesthetic for their procedure. Depending on the breed of animal, such as toy breeds, we sometimes have the owner bring them back when they are a little bit older (around 7-8 months old) to get spayed and neutered. By giving them a few extra months, those stubborn baby teeth may be able to fall out on their own. If they haven’t at this point, they will most likely need to be professionally extracted.

Michelle Arrowsmith, RVT