Puppy and kitten teeth are cute, little and sharp. Eventually, like most species, these baby teeth, also known as deciduous teeth, will fall out to allow the permanent teeth to erupt.
The adult incisors are the first to begin to erupt at around 3-4 months whereas the canines and molars are the last to erupt at around 5-6 months.
With the eruption of the permanent teeth, there are times when the deciduous tooth does not fall out and this is referred to as persistent deciduous or retained deciduous. Although this may not seem like an issue at the time, it actually can cause some significant changes to the eruption of the permanent teeth.
When a persistent deciduous tooth remains within the mouth as the permanent tooth is erupting with no signs of the baby tooth loosening or about to fall out, this can cause the permanent tooth to erupt at an abnormal angle. When the permanent tooth is not allowed to erupt normally, the occlusion of the mouth will be affected and can cause trauma to the surrounding teeth or soft tissue. With the soft tissue trauma it can be uncomfortable and most often painful for the patient to close their mouth or even eat and perform normal activities.
Common retained deciduous teeth that are seen are the canine and incisors but this does not exclude the premolars or molars. The longer a retained deciduous tooth is left within the mouth paired with a permanent tooth, the chances of the having an orthodontic procedure with a dental specialist is more likely.
It is recommended that when a deciduous tooth is seen closely associated with a permanent tooth, it should be removed immediately under anesthesia to reduce the chances of needing an orthodontic correction. To be able to catch this at an early stage it is recommended to train the puppy or kitten to allow oral exams. This can be done at home with brushing their teeth and getting them used to having their mouth worked with, allowing the owner and the veterinarian to better examine their mouth to catch these issues at an early stage.