How is Puppy Fur like Baby Teeth?

Posted on May 3, 2018 by Dr. Leslie Pitner.

G’DAY, MATE! 

Buster here (I’m Dr. Pitner’s Australian Labradoodle), and I am so excited for summer to finally begin. I know summer is just around the corner because I’ve been shedding my puppy coat. Australian labradoodles only shed once in our lives, when we lose our puppy fur and grow our permanent coat. It’s kind of like how kids lose their baby teeth, except there’s no “Fur Fairy.” If there was, I would be swimming in treats! Mom combs out my fur so it doesn’t mat, and when she’s done, she says there’s enough fur lying on the ground for another Buster! 

The preventative brushing my mom does while I’m losing my puppy coat is a lot like when parents bring their kids into the office while they’re losing their baby teeth. Scheduling an appointment before the permanent teeth come in can prevent serious dental problems down the road. With a brief exam, an orthodontist can determine whether a young patient’s permanent teeth risk overcrowding as they come in, if they have an overbite or underbite that needs to be addressed, and even make sure there are permanent teeth waiting to come in. 

Did you know that 10 percent of the population is missing one or more of their permanent teeth (not due to loss or extraction)? This means that if the baby tooth is lost, there’s nothing to replace it, which can lead to a lot of problems. The surrounding teeth will start to shift into the gap, and without a tooth to fill in that area of the jaw, the bone around the missing tooth will deteriorate. Plus, missing a tooth can lead to problems with self-confidence in kids. 

Missing teeth should be replaced by an implant, but patients can’t get dental implants until age 18. Fortunately, with proper care, a baby tooth can be kept in place until an implant can be added. But first, parents need to know the risks their child faces. The American Association of Orthodontists recommends all children be evaluated by age 7 so an orthodontist can check to make sure the child’s teeth and jaw are developing correctly. 

Dental health is important for the whole family, even for those who still have their baby teeth. A little preventative care can make sure everyone gets to keep smiling (and wagging their tail) for a long time!