Sadly it’s all too easy for our pets to lose their teeth as a result of gum disease; but did you know that there are times when a pet can actually have too many teeth?
Puppies and kittens start to lose their temporary (or milk) teeth at about 12 weeks of age and this process is usually completed by about six months of age.
As the temporaries are lost, so this leaves room for the adult teeth to emerge. However, it’s not uncommon, particularly in the smaller breeds of dog, for one or more of the temporary teeth to be retained temporary canine teeth can still be present when they should have fallen out.
So why is this a problem? Firstly, food may be trapped between temporary and permanent teeth leading to reddened and inflamed gums (known as gingivitis) and secondly, the retained temporary tooth may cause its adult counterpart to erupt in the wrong direction. However, with regular health and dental examinations, it is problems like this that can be picked up at an early stage by your vet.
So what can be done? In this case the answer is to extract the retained temporary tooth or teeth. This should resolve any gingivitis and allow the teeth to erupt in the correct direction. It is also important that as your dog and/or cat gets older to ensure good dental hygiene is maintained.
Did you know that you can brush your pet’s teeth? More and more people are doing this now with better pet oral health education and some find that their dogs actually enjoy and look forward to it. If you would like to find out how to brush your pet’s teeth ask your vet to show you. Please note: you should not use human toothpaste; your vet or pet shop will sell special toothpaste and brushes for your pet.
Prevention is always better than cure.
Chris Devlin BVSc MRCVS is a Vet and Partner at Hillside Veterinary Centre in Corfe Mullen. w: www.hillsidevets.co.uk.