Skip to main content

How to prevent your older dog from losing their teeth down the road

Make your pooch's teeth last a lifetime with these helpful tips

Just like us, puppies are born without teeth. Their baby teeth grow in, and when the pup is around 12 weeks old these fall out to make way for the adult teeth that they’ll have for the rest of their lives. But if you have an older dog losing teeth, there is likely a more serious issue at hand. It is not a normal part of the aging process for an adult dog to lose their teeth. If your pooch is missing a tooth or if they have some loose choppers, it’s time to seek help from a veterinarian. Here are a few of the most common causes of tooth loss in dogs and what you can do to protect their pearly whites.

Old lab sitting on couch smiling

Is it normal for older dogs to lose teeth?

Ordinarily, adult dogs should not lose their teeth as they age. If they do, it is typically a sign of some type of shock or disease. Injury or trauma, like if your dog hits their head or mouth, can cause teeth to loosen and eventually fall out. Hard treats like antlers and marrow bones can also damage teeth. When dogs chew something too hard, their teeth could crack and fall out. Poor diet and metabolic disorders can also lead to dental damage. If your dog experienced distemper, malnutrition, or some other ordeal when they were a puppy, they could suffer from abnormal development of their teeth and tooth enamel as they age. The result leaves their teeth weakened and more susceptible to plaque growth and tooth decay.

Related Videos

But perhaps the most common cause of adult dog tooth loss is poor dental hygiene. When left untreated, tartar growth can evolve into periodontal disease. This condition can cause tooth infections, abscesses, and bone loss, all of which can cause teeth to loosen and fall out. Thankfully, many of these causes can be prevented with the assistance of your veterinarian. Keep reading to learn what to do to protect your furry friend’s teeth.

Vet checking a dog's teeth

Make an appointment with the vet to prevent dog tooth loss

Whether you suspect injury or disease, your first stop should be the veterinarian’s office. If your pup recently had an accident that caused tooth loss, your vet can check their mouth to ensure no underlying issues may have contributed to it. They will also confirm that the entire tooth fell out. If part of it is still in the gums, it can lead to pain and infection down the line.

As for periodontal disease, the condition is unfortunately widespread in adult dogs. It is irreversible, and additional issues will arise the longer you wait to treat it. Schedule an appointment with the vet as soon as you notice any one of these periodontal disease symptoms:

  • Bad breath
  • Drooling
  • Gum inflammation
  • Difficulty chewing
  • Appetite loss
  • Receding gum line
  • Loose or missing teeth

If your dog has already been diagnosed with periodontal disease, your veterinarian can perform a professional dental scale and polish every few years. This can help protect the gums and teeth from further damage and prevent tooth loss.

Person brushing their dog's teeth

Prioritize your dog’s dental hygiene

It’s never too early to start thinking about your dog’s oral health. With these tips, you can protect your dog’s teeth and prevent periodontal disease. If your dog has already been diagnosed, these measures won’t reverse the disease, but they can help to prevent further degeneration.

Brush their teeth

Brush your pup’s teeth with a toothbrush and toothpaste made for pets. You don’t need to brush twice a day as you do for yourself; two to three times per week should suffice. Brushes are available with long handles (like regular, human toothbrushes) or in the form of rubber tips that fit on your fingers. There are also sprays, gels, and powders that can help remove plaque if your dog will not sit still for brushing.

Give them chew toys or dental chews

Dental treats and chew toys can help stimulate the gums and remove plaque from your dog’s teeth. Look for dental chews with high-quality ingredients, and never leave your dog unattended with a treat, as it could break into small pieces that pose choking hazards. For toys, you can choose from textured toys, rubber bones, rope toys, and more to take care of your pup’s oral health.

Use a water additive

Water additives are essentially like mouthwash for dogs — they help control the spread of tartar and plaque. Simply pour the recommended amount into their water bowl. The additive may change the flavor of the water slightly, so if you notice your dog is drinking less water than before or is avoiding the bowl completely, try a different brand to see if he prefers another flavor. The most important thing is to ensure that your dog is still drinking water and if you can’t find a product they like, stick to dental chews and tooth brushing.

A close up portrait of a white Pomeranian baring their teeth.

Final thoughts on dog tooth loss

For an old dog, tooth loss is a severe problem. It is usually the result of injury or a medical condition. Periodontal disease is one of the most common reasons that adult dogs experience tooth pain and decay. But there is always hope! The first stop for these guys should be the vet’s office. They can determine the cause of your dog’s oral health issues and recommend ways to prevent future tooth loss. To protect your fur baby’s dental health, regularly brush their teeth, give them chew treats and toys, and provide a water additive. By taking these steps, you can stop plaque in its tracks and avoid any oral discomfort for your dog.

Editors' Recommendations

Pamper your pooch with the best dog Valentine’s Day activities
Dog pampering, adventures, and more: The best Valentine's Day activities for pups
A woman taking a selfie with her white dog

Valentine’s Day celebrates love. Whether you’re single or with someone special, let’s share a secret between friends: Your dog is your main squeeze. Your pooch’s unconditional love and snuggles have helped you get through challenging times, and their one-of-a-kind personality has improved your brightest days.

Showering your dog with love on Valentine’s Day is a no-brainer. However, what should you do for the dog that has given you everything and so much more? Even these days — where news of shortages dominates the headlines — there are so many dog Valentine’s Day activities you and your furry best friend can enjoy this year. Choose one, or consider ditching work and treating your pup to a day of dog pampering and memories.

Read more
6 ways to make your Super Bowl party dog-friendly this year
Snacks, safety, and other details to throw the best dog-friendly Super Bowl party
A poodle mix dog wearing a Green Bay Packers shirt and hat sits and looks into the camera

As football fans from across the country gear up for Super Bowl Sunday, you might find yourself getting swept up in the hype. We get it! The NFL championship game is a big deal, and it's fun to get together with loved ones to mark the occasion. While you're planning your football-themed menu and decor, we encourage you to consider inviting furry friends, too. At the very least, make sure your own dog is well prepared for a fun day, too.
2023 pet trends revealed that more and more owners treat their dogs like their children, so we wouldn't be surprised to see a rise in dog-friendly Super Bowl parties this year. That's why we've compiled six important ways anyone can accommodate pets at their Super Bowl party -- from finding the right snacks to finding the right space.

Don't forget to provide snacks for dogs, as well as people
There are two key components to a successful Super Bowl party -- watching the game and enjoying the food -- so once you've got your location decided, make sure to plan a menu that accommodates everyone you've invited. That means feeding the dogs, too!
Most owners will have their own plan for feeding their pup dinner, but when it comes to snacks, it doesn't hurt to be prepared. When in doubt, ask ahead about your canine guests' preferences and restrictions. That way, other pet parents can bring food for their pups -- and no one is excluded.
A classic homemade dog biscuit is always a safe snack to have on hand, and they last for a long time as leftovers, too. Since most recipes will have you making and baking dough, you can use a football-shaped cookie cutter or silicone mold to add to the day's festivities!

Read more
5 dog outings to plan for your Valentine’s Day (with or without a human date)
Need a date for Valentine's Day? Take your dog for a special outing instead
A dog lies on the bed surrounded by roses for Valentine's Day

It can be a time to go on an important date or to stay at home with a bottle of your favorite Napa cab, but Valentine's Day also offers the opportunity to focus on the other important "people" in your life. This year, celebrate a different kind of love — the lasting bond between human and pup (no pricey chocolates included).
You don't have to have a human partner to observe Valentine's Day in style (though they can always tag along to your pet-themed activity). Here are a few things to do with your dog for a different kind of holiday experience.

Have a dinner date
Pick out a special dinner for you and Fido to enjoy together at your home or find a pet cafe or pet-friendly restaurant to dine out as a "couple." Most dogs can eat cooked meat in small quantities, so perhaps you want to share a chicken or steak on this special day. Of course, don't change up their diet if they have a sensitive tummy and cut only a piece that includes the same number of calories you'd ordinarily give them for dinner.
Go for a hike
OK, this isn't a classic Valentine's Day with your dog, but it's one your pup is sure to love. Enjoy the great outdoors together for exercise and scenic views, away from the noise of the day. Make it special by picking a unique destination and bringing some extra special snack.
Take your pooch on a date with their one true love
Does your pet have a best friend? Get them together on V-Day so your pup feels both human and canine love (bonus points if you and their owner also bring along your chosen beverage). A park day or pack walk will get everyone out of the house and feeling their best for this February 14th.
Watch romantic movies
All dogs love to snuggle on the couch with rom-coms. Find a couple of flicks that you've had on your list (or want to rewatch) and indulge in treats together in front of the TV. Your beloved pup won't judge if you tear up at the end when the couple finally gets together. Extra points if you pick out a dog- or cat-themed movie that might pique their interest with pet sounds.
Volunteer together
If your four-legged friend has the right temperament, consider training them to volunteer at a nursing home. It can be tricky to get approved for this; and only dogs that truly have a personality suited to the environment should try it. But if you can get them through the training, you'll both have a blast and brighten the days of everyone who gets to give you dog pats and biscuits.

Read more