Do dog teeth fall out? Vet reveals if adult dogs lose teeth or not

Dog getting teeth checked out by a vet
(Image credit: Getty)

Do dog teeth fall out when dogs get older? If you’ve had your dog since it was a puppy then it’s likely you’ve witnessed them go through teething and the loss of their baby teeth. Now, you might be wondering if tooth loss will happen to your adult pup. 

In an ideal world, your dog shouldn’t experience the loss of teeth when it’s older but unfortunately, dental issues aren’t unheard of amongst dogs and in more serious scenarios, can result in tooth loss. Perhaps you’ve looked into how to brush a dog’s teeth or, you’ve been trying to regularly give your pooch some of the longest lasting dog chews to keep on top of their mouth hygiene, to avoid any dental complications and the vet bills that come with this.

However, we always recommend consulting an expert first. We spoke to Dr Joanna Woodnutt, a qualified vet, who has revealed the answer to ‘do dog teeth fall out?’. She shares her expert advice on this, looks into the causes of tooth loss, the risk of gum disease, how to treat it, and advises how to prevent doggy dental issues.

Dr Joanna Woodnutt BVM BVS BVMedSci MRCVS
Dr Joanna Woodnutt

After graduating as a veterinarian from the University of Nottingham, Dr Joanna Woodnutt went on to practice companion animal medicine in the Midlands, UK. Dr Woodnutt is specifically interested in consulting and helping her clients understand their pets better, whether it’s around medical problems such as dermatology, behavior, and nutrition.

Is it normal for adult dogs to lose teeth? 

Woodnutt says that dogs should only lose their teeth once in their life, “When their puppy teeth fall out and their adult teeth come in,” she notes. This typically happens when a dog hits the six-month milestone.

But once a dog reaches its adult years, when they hit one year old, Woodnutt reveals that it’s not normal for them to lose teeth and is a sign of an underlying problem.

What causes tooth loss in adult dogs? 

According to Woodnutt, “The most common cause of tooth loss in adult dogs is periodontitis. This is when bacteria in the mouth damages the gums and then the ligaments that hold the teeth to the jaw bone”, she says, “Not only is this painful, but with the ligaments damaged, the teeth become wobbly and fall out.”

The severity of a dog’s gum health will vary and Woodnutt explains that gum disease and periodontitis are technically different. “Gum disease usually refers to gingivitis, which is the (reversible) precursor to periodontitis,” she adds, “Gingivitis means inflammation of the gums”. This is why people often refer to it as gum disease.

Other ways that a fully grown dog could lose a tooth is through injury, for example, if they knock their mouth or head causing a tooth to become loose and potentially fall out. Or if they suffered any trauma or a significantly poor diet when they were young, the enamel on their teeth could be poor and make them more at risk of plaque buildup and tooth decay.

Dog getting its teeth brushed

(Image credit: Getty)

How to tell if your dog has gum disease 

“Dogs with gum disease have sore red gums, especially along the line where the gums meet the teeth,” notes Woodnutt. This isn’t always easy to spot, especially if your dog isn’t one to visibly display their teeth or doesn’t like you going near their mouth. 

However, Woodnutt says that you might notice bleeding or blood on toys and chews and this could be a sign that your dog’s gums need to be checked out. She adds, “A bad-breath smell usually occurs too, and as tartar builds up on the teeth you’ll see a grey-green stain.”

How is gum disease treated for dogs? 

Gum disease in dogs is reversible with treatment, but periodontitis isn’t, Woodnutt tells us. But detecting gum disease as early on as possible and treating your dog’s gum disease can prevent tooth loss.

“Daily tooth brushing is ideal - this loosens the bacteria and prevents them from being able to get under the gums and do too much damage. If tartar has built up a professional scale and polish and full mouth assessment under a general anesthetic is necessary,” says Woodnutt.

How to prevent dental issues in dogs 

The advice offered for preventing canine dental issues is fairly similar to how we humans take care of our teeth and gums. Regular (daily) tooth brushing is the best form of prevention. 

Woodnutt tells us that dogs can be trained to accept a toothbrush and flavored toothpaste, which means many dogs see it as a treat. Other forms of dental care at home that can assist in preventing dental issues are chews and water additives. But Woodnutt notes that these are best used alongside toothbrushing.

While you’re here, it’s worthwhile having a read of these tips to keep dog teeth clean and healthy. Or if you have a puppy on your hands, check out a vet’s puppy teething timeline and equip yourself with helpful knowledge and tips. 

Jessica Downey
Staff Writer

With over a year of writing for PetsRadar, Jessica is a seasoned pet writer. She joined the team after writing for the sister site, Fit&Well for a year. Growing up with a lively rescue lurcher kindled her love for animal behavior and care. Jessica holds a journalism degree from Cardiff University and has authored articles for renowned publications, including LiveScience, Runner's World, The Evening Express, and Tom's Guide. Throughout her career in journalism she has forged connections with experts in the field, like behaviorists, trainers, and vets. Through her writing, Jessica aims to empower pet owners with accurate information to enhance their furry companions' lives.