Dogs get two sets of teeth. Just like humans, they start out with the milk teeth – also called the primary or baby teeth. In time these will naturally dislodge and are replaced by the permanent teeth. These are also referred to as the secondary teeth or adult dog teeth.
However, the actual number of teeth is higher than humans, with young dogs having 25 milk teeth, and adult dogs having 42 permanent teeth – 20 in the upper jaw (maxilla) and 22 on the lower jaw (mandible).
When you notice adult dogs with fewer teeth, it is likely that the missing dentures are broken and have fallen from their mouth. For instance, dogs can lose their teeth when carrying items like thick sticks or stones in their mouth.
It’s imperative to investigate any missing or broken teeth. To do this you need to know the answer to how many teeth do dogs have.
Should the lower piece of the tooth still be present it can cause pain and infection. You’ll need veterinary assistance to extract them properly, ensuring the health of your dog.
They can also lose them when plaque builds up on the gum line. Periodontal disease or gum is likely, it affects the teeth and gums.
Damaged gums will facilitate teeth into becoming loose. When tooth loss happens your dog is likely to find difficulty eating and an increased potential for health issues. The lack of ability to eat properly is only one component of this equation.
It is likely that oral health is linked to overall health. A dip in the oral health of your dog will contribute to lower overall health. That’s a serious concern.
Growth of the deciduous teeth
Unsurprisingly puppies are born without teeth. The deciduous teeth erupt through the gum as the puppy reaches around 3 weeks of age. Within a short space of time, approximately 3 weeks, all the milk teeth will have grown. A puppy should be no more than 6-7 weeks old when this occurs.
The organization of the teeth is similar to the human mouth. Dogs have incisors, canines, premolars, and molars. The canines are used for tearing things apart, such as flesh from the bone. The premolars and molars will grind the food up, allowing your dog to swallow.
Dental hygiene will be critical, and you should begin brushing the dog’s mouth immediately when they get in your care. As the teeth erupt, the gums will be sensitive, so ensure that the cleaning is gentle. Speak to your vet to settle on the appropriate product for your puppy’s dental care.
The teething process
When the dog reaches around 16 weeks of age, then the milk teeth start being replaced by the permanent teeth.
Even before the permanent teeth visibly erupt through the puppy’s gums, they will have already begun developing from their respective tooth buds that are within the jaws. As they grow, they push on the roots of the milk teeth. Once this happens, the crowns of the milk teeth will fall out and the new teeth will appear.
The teething process is uncomfortable for dogs. Their tender mouths are constantly being irritated, and they may have some reluctance eating. It is considered highly likely that puppies will drool excessively during this stage.
Nearly all dogs will feel the urge to chew while teething—and your clothes, shoes, furniture legs, and other items in the household may bear the brunt of this. As such, it is recommended that you get chew toys that will be safe. Note that the toys should be soft, and as a welcome bonus they’ll help keep the dog’s teeth clean.
Avoid items like ice cubes, nylon chews and hard toys. or even puppy bones as well, as these will be difficult for your dog to chew, resulting in damage to their teeth and even the digestive tract when swallowed.
The whole teething process usually takes around 4 months. By the time your puppy is reaching 7-8 months of age, all adult teeth should have already grown. If they haven’t, give it around one more month. If by 9 months there are some missing adult teeth, it is highly recommended that you get in touch with your vet.
Types of teeth
Like humans, there are 4 types of dog teeth:
These are the teeth that are at the front of the mouth. Both jaws will have 6 each, making it a total of 12 incisors. The dog uses them to grab their food, and occasionally to chew or groom themselves.
They are well-established, long teeth that look like fangs. They are used to grip and tear food—and it’s where the dogs got their alternative “canine” name from.
The dogs have 2 canine teeth on the upper jaw, and 2 on the lower jaw. The slight curvature of these teeth gives them better gripping power. Note that each canine has one root anchoring it to the jaw.
They are positioned just after the canines. Puppies will have 6 premolars on each jaw as part of the milk teeth, while adults will have 8 on each jaw (total of 16 premolars), contributing to the large number of the permanent teeth.
The premolars are used to shear through food and start grinding it up with the dog chewing through the food. These teeth can have 1 or two roots depending on the position of the particular tooth.
These are at the back of the mouth. Just like in human children, puppies are missing these, they will appear as the dog grows and develops a need for them. Adult teeth have 4 molars on the upper jaw, and 6 on the lower jaw.
These are designed to grind up food further into smaller pieces, for your pooch to easily swallow them. The molars have 1-3 roots to anchor them to the dog’s jaws.
There are situations when the puppy’s teeth fail to fall out on their own, instead of remaining in the puppy’s mouth. These are called retained teeth, a situation that results in overcrowding.
In this instance, the adult teeth will be positioned incorrectly. This is likely to increase the chance of your pooch having periodontal problems.