Keeping an eye on your dog's oral health is an important part of being a pet parent. Our Springfield vets are here to give you the inside scoop about the number of teeth your dog should have and why they might lose teeth.
How Many Teeth Do Dogs Have?
The actual number of teeth that your dog has will differ as they move from puppyhood to adulthood.
Puppies are born without any teeth, and their first teeth won't start to erupt until around 3 to 4 weeks of age. By 3-5 months, they should have all of their 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 Teeth That Dogs Have
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 just behind your dog's 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.
The teeth at the very back of your dog's mouth, on the top and bottom jaws are flat molars. Your dog uses these teeth to crunch through hard things such as treats and 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 commonly seen reason for tooth loss in dogs is advanced-stage periodontal disease. Without adequate dental care both at home and from the vet, your dog can develop dental disease 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
The sad reality is that over 80 percent of dogs over the age of 3 will develop some level of dental disease, including gingivitis. For this reason, dogs need to have their teeth brushed as often as possible to prevent the development of disease. Dental chews can also be helpful, especially for dogs who struggle with the toothbrush. Your dog also needs to go to the vet regularly for thorough cleanings.
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've noticed loose teeth in your dog's mouth, or if they have bad breath that continues to get worse, make sure that you schedule an appointment with a vet as soon as possible. Even if your dog has only lost one of their teeth, it is likely that they have more teeth affected that could benefit from removal to alleviate your dogs pain. 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.