Deciduous (“Baby”) Teeth in Pets

Puppies and Kittens are born without any teeth noticeable in the mouth. They will start to come in at approximately 3 weeks and should be done by 6 weeks. Often kittens have it completed before the puppies. They will keep these deciduous teeth until between 11 and 24 weeks when they should all be gone. Molars (at the back of the mouth) should be the last to go.

Usually what happens is as the body makes the adult teeth in the jaw the softer roots of the deciduous teeth will be reabsorbed into the jaw tissues and the tops will either then fall out or be swallowed by your pet. No worries with this as it happens all the time. All of this should be completed by 6 months of age.

We often have seen a retained deciduous (baby) tooth. This is one that is still present in the mouth even once the new permanent tooth has come in. This can cause the permanent teeth to come in and sit in abnormal positions. Retained deciduous teeth may cause overcrowding of teeth, odd bite patterns, or an abnormal jaw position. With too many teeth in the mouth and them crowding together the build-up of debris is much more likely and with-it dental disease.

Retained deciduous teeth are more common in dogs, though it does happen in cats. It often affects smaller breeds of dog, including the Maltese, Poodles, Yorkshire Terriers, and Pomeranian. These teeth should be removed, and the teeth are given a chance to sit normally. It will need to be done under a General Anaesthetic (and can often be performed when in for spay or neuter).

Things you may notice while your pet is “teething” – bad breath, sore, red gums especially around the teeth, and even some bleeding (often noted their bedding or toys). It will pass, but please routinely check in the mouth and if bothering your “baby” consult with the clinic.

Written by: Lisa Clifford,RVT