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 3. Our Madison 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 without teeth, and it’s not until they are 3 to 4 weeks old that their puppy teeth start to erupt. By 3-5 months of age, they will typically have all 28 of their 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's the front part of your dog's smile? The incisors! These are the small teeth directly in front of both the upper and lower part of the jaw. They use them for scraping at bits of meat and grooming their coat.
Behind the incisors are the canines, or "fangs." They are a pair of long, pointed, and extra sharp teeth both above and below. Canine teeth tear into meat and holding on to objects. Dogs can also show these teeth if they feel threatened or defensive, which is why it's so important to understand dog body language.
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 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 this material can be too hard and commonly results 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.
If you notice that your dog is losing teeth, has loose or wiggly teeth, or has progressively worsening breath, please set up a consultation with a veterinarian as soon as possible. Even if it seems like they just lost one tooth, it is likely that your pet has more diseased teeth in their mouth causing discomfort that would benefit from removal. Don’t wait until your pet is not eating to get a dental consult with your veterinarian. Use your pet’s annual exam as an opportunity 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.