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 Los Angeles 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 of a dog's teeth—incisor, canine, premolar, and molar—serves a specific function. Here is an explanation of what each type of tooth does and where they are located in your dog's 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.
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 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 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 chewing something or another injury to its mouth. Some of the most common items that can lead to tooth fractures or loss are made of dense mineral or bone material. To protect your dog's teeth, avoid giving your dog things like beef or pork bones, which can be too hard and frequently 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.
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.