Because there are many reasons a tooth could be missing, we should never assume that an absent tooth in a dog’s dentition is simply not there. A tooth could be missing secondary to physiologic reasons, trauma, breed predisposition, a tooth not erupting, or impaction. To find out which of these causes we are dealing with, dental radiographs need to be taken. This allows the doctor to see if the tooth is truly absent or if it is impacted, as well as valuable information about the root structures and bone around the rest of the teeth.
So what if the tooth IS impacted?
Impacted teeth can lead to further damage in a dog’s mouth. Extraction of these teeth is always recommended to prevent or treat a dentigerous cyst. These cysts can be invasive and destroy nearby teeth and surrounding bone, potentially leading to further extractions. With the extraction of impacted teeth and removal of the cyst (if present) prognosis is excellent and further damage can be prevented.