Pauline is concerned about Maxine's teeth.
It seems the 9-month-old Yorkshire terrier, who Pauline brought over from England at 8 weeks of age, has a few extra teeth. Maxine has all her puppy vaccinations and has been spayed, but Pauline is perplexed about what to do with the extra teeth.
Pauline brushes Maxine's teeth regularly and it is because of this that she noticed the presence of an extra tooth on the upper right and left side of the jaw toward the front of Maxine's mouth.
Pauline is aware that puppies have "baby teeth" and wondered whether these two "strays" might be baby teeth.
Yes, Maxine's extra teeth are likely deciduous, meaning they will fall out. It is the same term used to describe deciduous, as opposed to evergreen, trees. Unfortunately, Maxine's teeth aren't budging.
Retained deciduous teeth are fairly common in smaller dog breeds. Maxine certainly fits in that category. Puppies, just like children, are born with a first set of teeth that through the maturing process are replaced by permanent teeth. This replacement process is usually completed by 6 to 7 months of age. Deciduous teeth that do not come out can create problems with the alignment and health of the corresponding adult tooth or teeth.
When an adult tooth tries to grow in, crowding occurs. With crowding comes misalignment of the adult tooth and eventually tartar build-up around both teeth, leading to decay and eventually abscess.
The good news is that deciduous teeth are usually easily extracted and the dental surgery provides an opportunity to investigate for the presence of other retained deciduous teeth farther back in the mouth.
There is always a question of whether to wait or go ahead and pull out the teeth. It is best to err on the side of extraction early vs. late.
Incidentally, we are often able to combine deciduous tooth extraction with a neuter surgery, therefore allowing just one anesthetic procedure. This is not the case for Maxine, as she has already had her spay surgery.
Jeff Kahler is a veterinarian in Modesto. Questions can be submitted to Your Pet in care of LifeStyles, The Modesto Bee, P.O. Box 5256, Modesto 95352.