As a pet parent, it is important to keep an eye on your dog's teeth because oral health issues are fairly common in dogs over the age of three. Our Little Rock vets are here to give you the inside scoop about the number of teeth your dog should have and why they might be losing teeth.
How many teeth do dogs have?
The number of teeth in a dog’s mouth will change as they grow from puppies into adult dogs.
Puppies are born toothless, and their puppy teeth do not appear until they are 3 to 4 weeks old. By 3-5 months of age, they should have all 28 puppy teeth, including incisors, canines, and premolars.
The age of eruption of adult teeth in dogs is between 3-7 months of age. Adult dogs should have 42 permanent teeth, as compared to humans who have 32 teeth.
Their upper jaw has 20 teeth, while their lower jaw has 22 teeth.
Types of Dog Teeth
Each type of tooth a dog has—incisor, canine, premolar and molar—serves its own purpose. Here is what each type of tooth does and where these teeth are located in your dogs mouth:
What is the most visible aspect of your dog's smile? The teeth's incisors! These are the tiny teeth directly in front of the upper and lower jaws. They use them to scrape at meat and groom their coats.
The canines, or "fangs," are located behind the incisors. They are a pair of long, pointed, and extremely sharp teeth on both sides. Canine teeth shred into meat and grip items. Dogs can also expose these teeth if they feel threatened or defensive, which is why understanding dog body language is critical.
On either side of a dog's jaw on both the top and bottom are wide pre-molars, or carnassials. A lot of shredding and chewing is done with these teeth, which is why they're relatively sharp.
At the very back of a dog's mouth, above and below, are flat molars. He uses these to crunch on hard things, such as treats or kibble.
Why Dogs Lose Teeth
Aside from the transition from puppy teeth to adult teeth, it is not normal for a dog to lose teeth. If you notice that your dog is losing their adult teeth, you should contact your vet and schedule a dental appointment.
Here are the most common reasons for a dog to lose their adult teeth.
- Periodontal Disease - The most common reason for a dog to lose teeth is because of advanced dental disease in their mouth. Without proper dental care—like brushing and veterinary dental cleanings—periodontal disease can lead to diseased gums and decaying teeth.
- Trauma - Your dog's teeth can be lost due to trauma, whether it is caused by eating something or another harm to their mouth. Items composed of thick mineral or bone substance are some of the most common causes of tooth fractures or loss. To safeguard your dog's teeth, avoid offering your dog things like beef or pork bones, as these can be overly hard and sometimes result in fractures and tooth damage.
- Tooth Decay - Dogs’ teeth are prone to decay and wear and tear at a much faster rate than our own. They use their teeth to pick things up, carry things and chew things. In addition, a lot of things pass through a dog’s mouth, like slobbery toys, hair, dirt, feces and food. All of this can take a toll on the health of their teeth. Some dogs (especially small breed dogs and Greyhounds) experience tooth decay at an extraordinarily fast rate, requiring many teeth to be extracted by a vet throughout their lifetime.
How To Prevent Dogs From Losing Their Teeth
By the time they're 3 years old, more than 80 percent of dogs will develop some type of periodontal condition, including gingivitis. This means your dog's teeth need to be brushed regularly to prevent dental disease. Giving your pup dental chews is a good idea, and you'll need to take him to the vet for a thorough cleaning every so often, too.
If you notice that your pooch seems to have trouble chewing or you have other concerns about their teeth or mouth (including bad breath!), talk to your vet to find the right course of action to keep those chompers healthy.
Please schedule an appointment with a veterinarian as soon as possible if you notice your dog is losing teeth, has loose or wiggly teeth, or has gradually deteriorating breath. Even if it appears that your pet has only lost one tooth, it is possible that they have other unhealthy teeth in their mouth that are causing discomfort and would benefit from removal.Don't put off seeing your veterinarian for a dental exam until your pet isn't eating. Use your pet's annual exam to address your dog's teeth and overall dental health before an issue arises.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.