Snow Leopard

Snow Leopard
Snow Leopard cub (7 mos old) - Cape May County Zoo

Monday, July 16, 2012

The Root of the Problem

Most dogs lose their baby teeth and have all their adult teeth by the age of 6-7 months. A few may hang on for a bit but generally with normally chewing and teething, they fall out. 

In the smaller breed dogs, it is very common for them to remain and we call these retained deciduous teeth (baby teeth). These pose a problem because they line up right against their adult counterpart and create a great area for tartar, food and in some cases even hair, to accumulate. They can also prevent the adult tooth from coming in to a normal position.

This is why when a dog in getting spayed or neutered, one of the things we check for is any of these baby teeth. This is the time to remove them.  They are not always easy and the picture below explains why:

As you can see these are VERY long looking teeth but the part YOU would see is just the tip toward the top and down to where there is a fine line (seen better on the tooth to the right). The REST of that is solidly IN the gum and in it's socket. It takes a bit of work to get this out and if it breaks we often have to dig the root fragment out.  The hardest ones are the canine teeth and generally these are the most commonly retained. 

In the Yorkies, Maltese, Shih Tzu's etc it's also not uncommon to find retained incisors and molars also. These generally come out with more ease as the roots are not that deep.

The dog's do great post op - heck they do great post ovariohysterectomy - in both cases, they seem to fair better than us in these things - and it's a great preventative measure for later dental disease, which these dogs are already prone to getting.

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