Dogs and cats have 2 sets of teeth (just like humans). The first set of teeth are called deciduous teeth (or baby / milk teeth). Between 4-7 months of age the deciduous teeth are then pushed out by the 2nd set of teeth (called adult or permanent teeth) which must last for the rest of the pets’ life.
Normally as an adult tooth erupts it comes up behind the deciduous tooth and the pressure of this causes the deciduous tooth root to be resorbed /eaten away so the baby tooth becomes loose and falls out.
Sometimes things in nature go wrong, the adult tooth erupts in the wrong spot, so the deciduous tooth remains (i.e. its retained). When it occurs, it usually involves the canine (fang) teeth.
The problem with retained teeth is:
– The 2 teeth are tightly jammed together so food and bacteria lodge in the area and cause periodontal disease which can result in pain and losing both teeth.
– The adult teeth can impinge into the roof of the mouth causing pain and serious damage (they can puncture a hole from the mouth into the nose)
The retained deciduous tooth should be extracted as soon as possible before the adult tooth is fully erupted. This will
– Provide space for the adult tooth to hopefully move into as it erupts and hence prevent the adult teeth impinging into the roof of the mouth
– Prevent future periodontal disease in the area due to crowding.