You may have thought that it was only children that had ‘baby’ teeth but dogs have them too. And just like humans, some dogs don’t lose their baby teeth as they grow. This is a particular problem among certain breeds, in particular the toy breeds like Pomeranians, Yorkshire Terriers, Miniature Pinschers (Doberman) and Malteses but it also happens in other breeds like Jack Russells.
What does this mean?
This means that by the age of 6 months when all the adult teeth have emerged from the gums, there are still some of the baby teeth that have not fallen out. This is because the roots of the baby teeth have not regressed. The adult tooth should emerge on the same spot and push the baby tooth out.
If by the age of 6 months (usually when the dogs come for their sterilisation) we see that there are retained baby teeth in the mouth, we normally advise that they are removed because we know that the roots are now too well developed and the teeth will not fall out by themselves anymore.
Why is this a problem?
If left in, this can cause overcrowding of the mouth and impaction of food and hair inbetween the adult and baby teeth. This will lead to excessive bacterial growth, tartar formation and smelly breath.
Those teeth that are most frequently retained are the canines (one or all four) but in some toy breeds, an entire row of retained incisors (front teeth) and even some of the molars (back teeth) are still present. Sometimes in the case of the molars or incisors, the baby teeth actually form a cap over or on the side of the adult tooth preventing it from coming out properly or forcing it to come out mis-aligned. If the retained teeth are removed earlier rather than later, there is still a chance of the alignment improving as the pet grows.
This does not commonly happen in cats.