Puppies have 28 deciduous (baby) teeth and 42 adult teeth. Kittens have 26 deciduous (baby) and 30 as an adult. Their deciduous (baby) teeth will erupt when they are between three and seven months old.
Normally, the root of the baby tooth becomes loose and falls out, allowing the permanent tooth to come in. However, there are several reasons why the deciduous tooth may not fall out or become “retained.” This a frequent occurrence, especially in small breeds of dogs. When the deciduous teeth do not fall out, the deciduous and adult tooth will try to occupy the same space resulting in overcrowding, displacement of the adult tooth, and food becoming trapped between them. The trapped food will result in early periodontal disease.
Deciduous teeth should be removed soon after they are first seen. If it is extracted early enough, malpositioned adult teeth can return to their intended position. If not removed early enough the animal will have a permanent malpositioned tooth which may cause damage to other teeth, tongue or palate.
Written by: Dr. Suzanne Bulman, DVM