As pet owners, we want to do everything possible to ensure our furry companions live happy and healthy lives. However, our desire to help them can sometimes lead us down a path that isn’t in their best interest. One such instance is the concept of dog dentures.
While they may seem like a viable option for pets with dental issues, the truth is that they can do more harm than good. In this article, we’ll explore why dog dentures may not be a good idea and what alternatives pet owners can consider instead.
Dogs are just like people with respect to tooth care.
They can get cavities, dental disease, plaque build-up, and gum disease.
If your dog has a missing tooth or teeth, you may be thinking that dog dentures are a good solution for your furry friend’s dental woes.
Should dogs get dentures?
In almost all cases, the answer is “no”; dogs should not get dentures.
Let’s consider why humans get dentures or “false teeth.”
Largely due to ego, if we’re being absolutely honest.
Also, ensuring we can eat the foods we want (corn on the cob with no front teeth is hard!).
What about dogs? Will doggy dentures help?
They don’t have egos or care much about their appearance. We’ve all had dogs that we are sure do care, but in actuality, they don’t. So your dog’s false teeth are not to make them feel better about themselves.
Do they need them to eat?
Not really, as they can eat soft or wet dog food just fine with missing teeth; you can find many examples of toothless dogs that are completely happy and healthy (and well-fed).
Also, we don’t really know if they are comfortable. Again, using us humans as an example, we wouldn’t wear our dentures if our dentures were uncomfortable.
Dogs have high pain thresholds, and we cannot always tell when they are uncomfortable. If they are ill-fitting and causing discomfort, we may not even know.
There is always the concern that the dog may swallow the false teeth.
And don’t forget; dogs use those teeth to chew on chew toys, so doggie dentures must be made to withstand enormous bite pressures without becoming loose in the dog’s mouth.
Lastly, dentures must be cleaned regularly, which will become a hassle. Improper cleaning will lead to even more problems down the road.
So do dogs need dentures? Should they get them?
In almost all cases, no.
I would say dog dentures are more for the owner than the dog.
A dog is “almost human” and I know of no greater insult to the canine race than to describe it as such. -John Holmes
If your dog’s tooth problem is real and severe, you may want to consider tooth implants instead of dentures.
Despite how I feel about them, doggie dentures are a thing some owners opt for, so we’ll dive into doggie dentures a bit more below.
Can dogs regrow lost teeth?
We should get this one out of the way quickly, as it is often asked.
The answer is no; dogs cannot regrow a lost tooth.
Sharks, yes. Fido, no.
How many dogs have dentures?
Statistically, not many.
I can say that because I’ve been unable to find any credible source of information that shares a number or a range.
It’s just not that common, and you’ll be hard-pressed to find a veterinarian that supports the decision to have your dog get dentures.
There’s a hint.
Avoiding the need for doggie dentures
Ok, so they are a bad idea. Let’s take steps to ensure Fido doesn’t need them.
The best approach to avoiding the need for dentures down the road is to ensure good canine dental health for your dog. There are a few considerations:
- Dogs can get cavities, plaque build-up, and gum disease. Dogs are susceptible to tooth decay just like humans, as they do not produce strong enough saliva to keep their teeth clean.
- You’ll read that you should brush your dog’s teeth regularly. Every couple of days, maybe once per week. Maybe every two weeks. I know of very few people, myself included, that adhere to any schedule like this. It just doesn’t happen. Even vets I talk to don’t. You can buy dog-friendly toothpaste just about anywhere. I suspect it tastes like bacon or old shoes, so is tasty for dogs.
- Good kibble dog food and chew toys help. Both are helpful for the passive removal of tartar buildup. We find they are also the best way to help prevent bad breath in your pooches.
- Importantly, your dog should have its teeth cleaned professionally at least annually (our schedule) or even more often if you can get around to it. Every six months is not too often, but this will depend on the other things you do to ensure good dental health and clean teeth.
Healthy teeth and gums
- Help ensure good dental health by giving your dog good food and the right chew toys. The wrong chew toys can lead to fractured or chipped teeth that may require professional treatment.
- Dogs with 100% soft food diets tend to have more teeth problems than dogs that need to crunch through their food. It’s nice to treat your dog to soft food, even baby them a little, but soft food should not make up 100% of what your dog eats.
- Along the same lines, human food is often detrimental to good canine dental health. Overall health, too – we recommend not feeding your dog human food.
- Dental treats are a great addition to your dog’s food and chew toy landscape.
- Likewise, Dental chew sticks will help keep your dog’s teeth clean and healthy. We always have bags of these lying around, and I believe they ensure our dog’s teeth and gums remain healthy.
Regular professional check-ups
Many professionals recommend teeth cleaning regularly – every six months is pretty common – but annually works well for us due to the other precautions we take.
What about pet dental implants?
Dog dentures and dog teeth implants are not the same things. Dentures are used to fill in places where missing teeth have left gaps, whereas dog teeth implants can be used when there are no teeth or when a dog’s teeth have been knocked or pulled out.
Dentures can be put in and taken out while implants are there to stay.
Pet dental implants are often anchored with titanium posts surgically installed into the dog’s jaw and fixed in place with a resin post cement. The implant is surrounded by bone, providing support and stability for the dog’s mouth. Of course, this applies to dogs and cats alike.
Although dental implants have a long history of success with humans, that’s not the case with our beloved pooches. There are far fewer case studies, and, as with dentures, our dogs can’t tell us how the implants work.
There have been only a few studies done on this, so there are not a lot of statistics to go with.
In the Journal of American Veterinary Medical Association, an article contains the following statement:
To our knowledge, there are no available peer-reviewed scientiﬁc studies demonstrating that dental implants in dogs and cats would be medically beneﬁcial or necessary to maintain an excellent quality of life in animals with missing teeth— The case against the use of dental implants in dogs and cats
The above article is lengthy and goes into detail on human implants and then pet implants. They make a major point that the reasons for humans to have implants do not necessarily correlate to your dog needing them.
The above article from the Journal of American Veterinary Medical Association details the following reasons why dental implants in dogs are not recommended:
- Inapplicability of evidence of dental implant success in humans
- ..meaning, because it works for humans does not mean it’ll work for dogs
- Insufﬁcient evidence of long-term implant efﬁcacy and safety
- Veterinarians should not offer procedures unless there is reasonable scientific evidence to suggest the procedure is efficacious and safe
- Potential medical and quality-of-life beneﬁts versus potential risks and costs
- Veterinary ethics demand that a procedure must outweigh the potential risks and costs. This is not well established for dog dental implants
- Purported beneﬁts of dental implants in dogs and cats
- There are no peer-reviewed scientific studies to show dental implants for dogs and cats are medically beneficial or necessary
An ancillary concern here is that dental implants require general anesthesia for your dog; any time your dog goes under anesthesia, there is a risk.
Although I could not find any credible “dog denture” references, I found some “dog implant” ones worth reading. A valid use case here is for military working dogs. Obviously, they need their teeth. They are often replaced with metal implants when they break or get pulled. This leads to the myth that all “Navy SEAL dogs have Titanium Teeth,” which isn’t true.
Interesting reading about canine dental use cases
I found a specific Veterinary clinic that has a host of use cases for both dogs and cats – it’s interesting to read through:
- Oscar got some temporary braces on to help with tooth alignment
- Read through some of their other use cases to for an amazing amount of detail about dog (and cat) dental hygiene. Fantastic information here.
You’ll want to research veterinary dentists for more information. If you google “canine dentistry”, that’ll be a great start.
Dog Dentures FAQ
Sorry, no, it’s not true. It is true, however, that they may have lost teeth replaced with metal – possibly even Titanium – implants.
No, unless you mean these.
I have difficulty pinning this down simply because the concept varies widely, and there seems to be zero consistency. If you are considering them (and I hope you aren’t!), call your Vet for a quote or a referral.
Prices vary widely based on where you look. The prices can apparently range from $2000-$3500 per tooth. This explains why only the government can afford them, I suppose.
Conclusion – are dentures for dogs a good idea?
To sum this up, there are a few questions to consider:
- Will your dog feel better about himself because he has dentures?
- Will your dog eat better with dentures?
- Will your dog benefit from dog dentures?
Except in rare circumstances, the answer to the above questions is “no.”
Doggy dentures will not help your dog feel better about himself.
Your dog will most likely not eat better with dentures
Your dog will most likely not benefit from dentures, and, in fact, they may cause more harm than good.
In short, no, your dog does not need dog dentures.
- San Juan Veterinary Clinic
- Dentures – Par Excellence
- Animal Dentistry and Oral surgery
- False Teeth Options
- Aug 22, 2022 – first published
- May 2, 2023 – updated with additional references to case studies