As a new dog owner, you want to know everything there is to know about your new furry friend’s health. This includes learning about dog teeth. Taking care of your dog’s dental health is key to looking after their overall health. This is because poor oral hygiene causes severe dental disease in dogs.
Here, we discuss the types, growth, and care of your dog’s teeth. Every dog tooth is different and needs expert care to stay healthy. Ready to learn more about dog teeth and how to care for them properly? Read on with us to find out!
Number of Teeth in Dogs
The number of teeth that your dog has ultimately depends on their age and growth stage. Depending on how old your dog is, they may have more or fewer teeth. This is because puppies have fewer teeth than adult dogs. A dog’s proneness to periodontitis may also cause them to have fewer teeth than other adult dogs.
How Many Teeth Do Puppies Have?
Like people, puppies are born without any visible teeth. Their deciduous teeth, or milk teeth, only start to appear when your puppy is three weeks old. Over the next few weeks, your pup will gradually grow all 28 of their deciduous teeth until their sixth week, where all of their teeth should be present. Unlike an adult dog, your puppy’s teeth are an equal number in their upper and lower jaw – they should have 14 in each. Your puppy should keep all 28 of its deciduous teeth until they reach 16 weeks of age. At this time, your puppy begins teething. This means that their deciduous teeth will start to fall out, and new adult teeth will begin to grow in their place.
How Many Teeth Do Adult Dogs Have?
Your adult dog has 42 teeth. Unlike a puppy, your adult dog will have 20 teeth in their upper jaw, and 22 in their lower jaw. If your dog has less than 42 adult teeth, they may have lost one or more if their teeth have broken or if they have sustained an injury. This can happen if your dog carries hard objects in its mouth, such as rocks and thick sticks. Certain breeds may also be more prone to dental disease and injuries than others, such as Chinese Crested Dogs and brachycephalic breeds, which often develop dental overcrowding. If you notice that your pooch is missing one or more teeth, it is best to check in with your vet for advice.
Types of Dog Teeth
Your furry friend has several different types of teeth. Each type of tooth performs a different job and helps your dog in different ways. These roles include chewing, breaking food into small pieces, and even grooming. As such, your dog is equipped with incisors, canines, premolars, and molars to help them get through their meals and daily lives.
Incisors are the front teeth of a dog. These small, single-rooted teeth are essential for cutting, picking up objects, scooping, and grooming. You should find a total of 12 incisors in an adult dog’s mouth, 6 of these in the lower jaw and 6 in the upper jaw. These small teeth are found between the long, pointed canine teeth. Unfortunately, because these teeth are small and only have a single root, they are prone to dental disease and often become mobile when decay sets in. This makes them prone to falling out once periodontitis enters the advanced stage.
Perhaps the most recognizable set of teeth in dogs, the canines are the four long and pointed teeth in the front of your dog’s mouth. You will find two canines in your dog’s upper jaw, and two in the lower jaw, just beside the incisors. The canine teeth are used for display, tearing, holding prey, and cradling the tongue. These teeth form important structures in your dog’s mouth. The loss of canines is serious because it weakens the jaw and allows the tongue to fall out of the mouth, exposing the tongue to drying and trauma. If you suspect that something is wrong with your dog’s canine teeth, don’t delay your trip to the vet.
Your adult dog should have 16 premolar teeth. These are found on either side of the upper and lower jaws. The premolars are used for breaking food into small pieces, carrying, and holding. Premolars have the properties of both canines and molars and may act as transitional teeth when chewing. When seen from the side, premolars have a subtle pinking shear appearance, with the upper tooth pointing into an interdental space in the lower jaw. If the premolars do not line up this way, it may indicate a bite defect.
Your adult dog should have 10 molars. Four of these are found in the upper jaw, while the remaining six are found in the lower jaw. The molars are used for grinding food into small pieces. When compared to the premolars, molars are flatter and meet each other when the mouth is closed. Dog molars are also very powerful, with masticatory forces estimated at 300 to 800 psi as a passive bite force. In contrast, suddenly snapping the jaws shut can cause a localized bite force as high as 30,000 to 80,000 psi. This means that your dog’s molars are powerful tools for chewing hard food, like dog kibble, tough dog treats, and bones. Lastly, puppies do not have molars – molars are only found in the mouths of adult dogs.
Growth of Teeth in Dogs
Owning a puppy for the first time can be daunting. There is a lot to keep track of and much to do to ensure that your pup grows up healthy. This includes keeping up with your puppy’s dental health. As your little one grows, their teeth will grow, fall out, and then grow again. This process is uncomfortable for your puppy and, in rare cases, can lead to dental problems later on. With your vet’s help, you can make this process as stress-free as possible for you and your pup.
0 to 2 Weeks
Newborn puppies are born extremely vulnerable. Not only are they blind and deaf, but they also lack a set of teeth to defend themselves and eat solid food with. As such, the first two weeks of your puppy’s life will revolve around nursing and sleeping under the dutiful protection of their mother. Because newborn puppies have no teeth, the dam usually allows her puppies to suckle as often as they need, as the lack of teeth makes the process less painful for her. This two-week period goes by quickly, however, and the dam will soon know when her puppies are growing their new teeth.
2 to 4 Weeks
Your puppy’s first deciduous teeth start to appear at two weeks of age. The incisors are the first teeth to appear. Because of this, your dam may find nursing uncomfortable as her puppies may begin to use their teeth when suckling. At about four weeks old, your puppy’s canines and premolars will also come through. The canines are the sharpest teeth that appear next to the incisors, while the premolars are less sharp and sit behind the canines. The premolars may take longer to come through and may not appear until 6 weeks of age.
Overall, these new developments continue to make nursing uncomfortable for the dam, who may be reluctant to feed her litter. So, your puppy must begin weaning at 3 to 4 weeks old. This means that they start the transition to eating solid food rather than milk. Because puppies do not have molars like adult dogs, they must eat softer food that does not require as much chewing.
5 to 8 Weeks
By 5 to 8 weeks of age, your little ball of fur is fully equipped with all 28 deciduous teeth. Your dam no longer shows interest in feeding her litter. As much as she wants to protect them, their new teeth are now too painful for her to cope with. As such, your puppy should now be well on its way to being fully weaned and onto solid food rather than milk.
At around 8 weeks old, your puppy may begin to lose its deciduous teeth. This happens because the tooth roots are absorbed back into the body, leaving the teeth loose so that the adult teeth can push through. It is normal for teething to cause a small amount of bleeding from the gums, but large amounts of blood are a sign that something is wrong. If you notice a lot of blood, be sure to seek advice from your vet.
12 to 16 Weeks
At 12 weeks, your puppy’s teething process is in full swing. This means that your puppy will lose each of its deciduous teeth. In their place, adult teeth will grow, along with a new set of molars that were not present before. This time is extremely uncomfortable for a lot of puppies. A 12-week old puppy may develop inflamed and bleeding gums, drooling, increased chewing behavior, a lack of appetite, and a low mood. Some pups will also get a slight fever during the teething process. If this happens to your puppy, be sure to monitor them for any signs that their temperature is increasing. A severe fever indicates a serious infection that will need veterinary treatment.
Your 12-week old pup needs safe chew toys that will help to ease their pain and discomfort. Be sure to choose toys that are made especially for puppies. The toys must also be appropriate for the size of your puppy’s mouth and their enthusiasm for chewing. By 16 weeks old, teething should slow down, and your puppy’s need to chew should subside along with it.
6 Months and Older
Your 6-month-old puppy is due for a veterinary check-up. This is to ensure that all of your pup’s deciduous teeth have fallen out and that all of the adult teeth have come through. Should your vet find any remaining baby teeth, these will be removed. Your vet will also check for crooked teeth, jaw misalignment, broken teeth, bleeding gums, and tartar build-up that may have already set in. Overall, your 6-month-old puppy should now have all 42 adult teeth which will remain for the rest of its life.
Common Dental Problems in Dogs
Some of the most common dental problems include wobbly teeth, tooth misalignment, dental fractures, and dental abscesses. All of these problems warrant a trip to the vet for treatment. Without treatment, these dental problems can advance and become more painful for your furry friend. This affects your pup’s quality of life and ability to enjoy their food and toys.
Loose Permanent Tooth
While your puppy’s baby teeth will become loose during teething, your adult dog should not have any loose adult teeth. Unfortunately, a wobbly adult tooth can indicate advanced periodontal disease or trauma to the tooth. In more advanced cases of periodontal disease, the gum recedes, leaving the tooth root exposed. This can cause the tooth to become wobbly as decay sets in. In the latter case, trauma can occur as a result of a collision with another dog or a harsh blow to the jaw. In either case, you must work with your vet to find out the cause and to create a care plan to help your pooch. Your vet may order an X-ray to check for any trauma to the tooth.
If your dog has malocclusion it means that their teeth are not aligned properly. There are two kinds of malocclusion in dogs, namely skeletal and dental. Skeletal malocclusion results from abnormal jaw length. Some common forms of skeletal malocclusion include an overbite, an underbite, and asymmetry of the upper and lower jaws. In contrast, dental malocclusion is caused by teeth that are out of their normal alignment. Such conditions include rostral crossbite and causal crossbite. When a malocclusion causes trauma to the teeth or tissues, the malocclusion then becomes non-functional or traumatic. Your vet will treat non-functional malocclusion by taking the affected teeth out, or by creating additional space for the problem tooth to occupy.
There are five types of tooth fracture in dogs. These are enamel fracture, uncomplicated and complicated crown fracture, uncomplicated and complicated crown root fracture, and root fracture. These dental traumas can be caused by biting a hard object or a blow to the jaw. If your dog experiences dental trauma, there are several signs to look out for. These include chewing on one side, inability to eat, excessive drooling, facial swelling, and refusing to chew on hard toys or treats. If your pooch shows any of these signs, be sure to get them to our vet right away. A broken tooth can be painful for your pup and can stop them from eating enough, leading to weight loss.
A tooth abscess is a severe dental infection. It typically occurs when bacteria enter through a break or gap in a tooth. However, an abscess may also form as a result of severe periodontal disease. Despite being extremely painful, your dog may not show obvious signs of a dental abscess. Your dog may avoid chewing on toys or may pull away when you pet their head. More observant owners may notice that their pet only eats on one side, or rubs their face more often. If the pain and swelling extend behind the eye, your dog may react painfully if you open its mouth. If your pooch shows any signs of dental disease, make sure to get them to a vet right away. Left without treatment, an abscess can cause serious eye infections and widespread tooth loss.
Common Periodontal Issues in Dogs
Periodontal disease is caused by bacteria, food, and other particles in your dog’s mouth. Right after your pooch eats, a sticky film of plaque forms over their teeth. If this film is not removed, the plaque can cause gingivitis or periodontitis in dogs.
Signs of Periodontal Issues in Dogs
Early periodontitis is often missed in dogs. These first signs may include bad breath and reddened gums. As periodontitis advances, your dog will show more severe signs of the disease. These include bleeding gums, difficulty eating, more drooling, and pawing at the mouth. Other signs include tooth fracture, tooth loss, and inability to open and close the mouth. s always, be sure to consult with your vet if your furry friend shows signs of pain or discomfort. Early direction and treatment is the best policy for periodontal issues in dogs.
Four Types of Periodontal Issues in Dogs
Gingivitis arises when the gums become inflamed. This inflammation occurs due to a film of plaque on the gum line. Luckily, this type of periodontal disease is non-destructive and a simple cleaning at the vets can treat the problem. Gingivitis may only affect a small portion of the gum, which makes it much easier to treat. However, it can progress to early periodontitis if allowed to continue.
Periodontitis can be placed into three categories: early, moderate, and advanced. In early cases, periodontitis can be treated through deep scaling and polishing under general anesthesia. The clinical signs may only be redness and bleeding of the gums at this stage. In contrast, moderate periodontitis is diagnosed through X-ray examination to reveal bone damage and loss. Lastly, advanced periodontitis may cause retracted gums, tooth damage, and visible tartar. At this point, your vet may remove the teeth to treat the disease.
Care Tips for Dogs' Dental Health
Caring for dog teeth doesn’t have to be a chore. Once your dog learns to accept regular dental care, you and your furry friend will be well on your way to maintaining excellent standards of dental care. This in turn helps to prevent painful dental problems like periodontitis. So, to care for your dog’s teeth, you may brush them, give dental chews, and take them for regular checkups.
Brushing of Teeth
Like people, it’s best to brush a dog’s teeth twice a day. Brushing three times per week is the minimum to remove plaque. As such, it is best to teach your dog to accept regular tooth brushing whilst they are young. To begin training, make sure to choose a quiet place. Hold your pooch securely in your lap with their head facing away from you. Then, rub your finger or a soft cloth over just a few teeth, using a steady back and forth motion. Once your pup is comfortable with you touching their teeth, let them taste some pet-safe toothpaste from your finger. From here, you can begin applying the toothpaste to their teeth and progress to a toothbrush. If your dog is defensive of their mouth, or there is a risk of being bitten, do not attempt to do this without the supervision of a vet.
Dental chews are another useful tool for keeping your pet’s teeth clean. Many dental chews are made with a bumpy design, which creates a scrubbing action whilst your pooch chews. This helps to break up plaque and tartar. Also, dental treats come in all shapes and sizes, and you must pick a chew that’s suitable for your furry friend. Do not choose a chew that your dog could choke on, or that is too large for their mouth. If the toy is too large, your dog will not be able to chew on it well enough to gain any benefit from it.
Regular check-ups with your vet are the best way to ensure your pet’s dental health stays good. A once-yearly professional clean can help to prevent periodontitis in your dog. So, speak to your vet about your options, and ask for a recommendation on how often to bring your furry friend in for dental check-ups. Some dogs may need to see their vet more often than others. These dogs might include brachycephalic dogs and dogs with a history of dental disease. This may also be the case for dogs who do not tolerate tooth brushing at home. If your dog does not allow regular tooth brushing, you may need to schedule more regular cleanings with your vet to be on the safe side.
Dog Teeth FAQ
Have any more questions or concerns about dog teeth and dental health? Feel free to browse our Frequently Asked Questions section here. If in doubt about your pet’s health, always ask your vet for advice.
Puppies do not have molars until they reach 12 weeks of age. Before this time, puppies only have incisors, canines, and premolars, which grow in temporarily. Sometimes as early as 8 weeks, puppies will lose this initial set of teeth, which are then replaced by 42 adult teeth by the time they are 6 months old. This set will include the molars. Your 6-month-old puppy will have 10 molars, four of which are in the upper jaw, and six of which are in the lower jaw.
First and foremost, toys made for puppies are the best way to help your pup through teething. To ease their discomfort, many puppies will chew more often, and it is best to direct this need to toys rather than furniture or dangerous objects. It is also recommended to give your pup something cold but safe to chew on. You may freeze your puppy’s chew toys, or even offer cold carrots or frozen fruits. These “cold packs” may help to relieve the discomfort in your pup’s mouth. Lastly, do not give your puppy over-the-counter painkillers without asking your vet first. Over-the-counter painkillers can be dangerous for puppies as their dosage must be very small.
Dog teeth are made up of four tissue types: pulp, dentin, enamel, and cementum. First, the pulp is the innermost portion of the tooth. It consists of connective tissue, blood vessels, and nerves that nourish the tooth itself. The pulp is made up of two parts, namely the pulp chamber and the root canal. Blood vessels and nerves enter the tooth through the root and the pulp chamber. Next, dentin surrounds the pulp. This is a hard, yellow substance that makes up most of the tooth. Enamel covers this dentin to form the outermost layer of the tooth’s crown. The enamel allows the teeth to withstand the pressure of chewing and protects them from bacteria. Lastly, a layer of cementum covers the outside of the tooth’s root beneath the gum line. This cementum holds the tooth in place.
Ideally, you should brush your dog’s teeth twice a day. At a minimum, you should brush them thrice a week to reduce bacteria and tartar. Daily brushing helps to prevent periodontal disease in your dog, thus reducing the likelihood that your pooch will suffer from painful dental problems. It is best to get your puppy used to tooth brushing early on as it can be more difficult to get an adult dog used to the process. However, many adult dogs can still learn to tolerate tooth brushing, or even enjoy it if rewarded afterward.
Many puppies are fond of playfully nipping at their owners’ feet. This is especially common in herding breeds like Border Collies and Australian Cattle Dogs. When your puppy tries to nip at your feet, divert their attention to a favorite toy instead. You may keep this toy in your pocket for easy access. Just make sure that it is small enough to hide so that your pup does not jump up at you for the toy. Over time, your puppy should learn to divert their nipping needs to a chew toy rather than to your feet. Lastly, be fair and never punish your pup for biting your feet. Simply correct and redirect their behavior.
Carrots are good for a dog’s teeth. Their crunchy texture acts as a natural toothbrush, breaking up plaque whilst your pooch enjoys their snack. Not only this, but carrots are rich in vitamin A, which is crucial for maintaining strong tooth enamel. Carrots also contain some fluoride. Fluoride plays an important role in building strong teeth and preventing dental decay. So, to give your pooch a serving of carrots, you can start by adding some to their meals. Both raw and cooked carrots are healthy options for your furry friend, especially when cut into bite-size chunks. As always, monitor your pup for signs of choking when they eat hard and crunchy foods like carrots.
Coconut oil may be a good natural alternative to pet-safe toothpaste. If you prefer to use natural products, there is evidence to suggest that coconut oil can help to keep your dog’s teeth healthy. But first, what is coconut oil and how does it help with dental health? In short, coconut oil is a rich source of lauric acid. Lauric acid is a natural substance that helps to kill harmful bacteria and fungi. With this in mind, lauric acid is even able to battle the harmful bacteria Streptococcus in your pet’s mouth. This bacteria causes tooth decay and bad breath in dogs. Coconut oil’s antimicrobial compounds also attack Lactobacillus, another species that cause dental decay. So, with all of these properties in mind, you may consider using coconut oil the next time you brush your pooch’s teeth.
Your adult dog has 42 teeth. These include incisors, canines, premolars, and molars. If your dog’s oral hygiene is not maintained, they may suffer from painful dental diseases like periodontitis. Luckily, practicing good oral hygiene helps to prevent these problems. Routinely brushing your pet’s teeth and providing dental chews are just two ways to maintain excellent dental health.