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Carla Molinari
Treasurer of the FCI
Most common dental problems in puppies


At the age of seven to eight months latest a puppy should have a full set of a total of 42 permanent teeth. Since not all changes in dentition go smoothly, this should be checked out by a veterinarian at the age of 4 to 6 months to make sure that there are no problems. Every trauma to baby teeth like luxation or fracture needs to be professionally addressed immediately, since severe damage to the permanent tooth buds is a very frequent result.

Persistent baby teeth

A common problem, particularly in small breeds, is a failure of puppy teeth to fall out, especially the canines. Now we have two teeth occupying a space that was designed for just one tooth. This can lead to serious and painful dental malocclusions (improper bites) such as the lower canine teeth biting into the palate of the mouth. If the permanent tooth has broken through the gum and the baby tooth is still in place, the baby tooth should be extracted immediately. This will then allow the permanent tooth to grow into the right location and position.

Ectopic teeth / tooth malformation

Teeth sometimes do not develop in the correct axial position or in the wrong place. If they cannot be moved back orthodontically into the right position, extraction is recommended. Teeth that come out with irregular shape, size and structure are mainly caused by a trauma to the tooth buds. They are often retained and extraction is indicated in most cases.

Retained teeth

These teeth are lying in the jawbone, more or less in their correct position but don’t come through to the surface. If presented at an early stage (5-7 months) the eruption process may be re-induced through surgery. If the case is presented too late then surgical extraction is the recommended treatment, since they can cause cysts. If they are not extracted, x-ray control is needed (1x/year) to monitor their progress.

© courtesy Dr. Dr. Fahrenkrug
A retained baby canine tooth in a dog. Tooth is fractured and infected, note the cyst which has developed

Supernumerary teeth

This refers to the presence of more than 42 permanent teeth after the shedding of all baby teeth in puppies. In dogs this is mainly seen with the incisors (8 instead of 6), where treatment is often not required. In principal, every tooth can develop as a twin tooth, including double canine teeth. As a general rule those teeth which fit better with the opposite teeth should be kept and the others extracted.


The development of the baby and permanent teeth are highly complicated biological processes and should be monitored closely by a vet. If there is a constant discomfort and dental pain, the puppy may not let anyone handle its mouth and head anymore which can lead to undesired behaviour problems. Early treatment is the best choice to prevent permanent dental and behavioural problems.

Dr.med.dent. Dr.med.vet. Peter Fahrenkrug
Dentist, Veterinarian and expert in Veterinary Dentistry

Dr. Dr. Fahrenkrug is one of the internationally leading experts in canine dentistry.

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