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 Rock Hill 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 dog's mouth:
What is the most visible part of your dog's smile? The teeth's incisors! These are the small 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 a pair of long, pointed, and extremely sharp teeth located behind the incisors. Canine teeth tear into meat and grip objects. Dogs can also show 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 its 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 through the process of trauma—whether it’s caused by chewing something or they sustain another injury to their mouth. Some of the most common items that can cause fractures or loss of teeth are made from dense mineral or bone material. To protect your dog’s teeth, it is best to avoid giving your dog things such as beef bones or pork bones, as these materials can be too hard and commonly results in fractures and tooth damage.
- Tooth Decay - Dog teeth decay and wear and tear at a much faster rate than human teeth. They use their teeth to pick up, carry, and chew objects. Furthermore, slobbery toys, hair, dirt, feces, and food all pass through a dog's mouth. All of this can have an impact on their dental health. Some dogs (particularly small breed dogs and Greyhounds) develop tooth decay at an alarming rate, necessitating the extraction of numerous teeth by a veterinarian over the course of their lives.
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.
If you notice your dog is losing teeth, has loose or wiggly teeth, or has progressively worsening breath, please schedule an appointment with a veterinarian as soon as possible. Even if it appears that your pet has only lost one tooth, it is likely that they have more diseased teeth in their mouth causing discomfort that would benefit from removal. Don't put off seeing your veterinarian until your pet isn't eating. Use your pet's annual exam to discuss your dog's teeth and overall dental health before there is a problem.
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.