How Many Teeth Do Dogs Have?
And how to keep your dog's teeth healthy 🦷
Have you ever sat down and examined your pup’s teeth? As long as she’s comfortable with that, checking out her teeth (and knowing how to take care of them) is a fun bonding experience that will help you keep them as healthy as possible.
But exactly how many teeth are even in there?!
The Dodo reached out to Dr. Michelle Burch, a veterinarian at Paramount Pet Health, and Dr. Corinne Wigfall, a veterinarian working with SpiritDog Training, to find how many teeth dogs have and how to make sure they stay in tip-top shape.
How many adult teeth do dogs have?
Adult dogs have 42 permanent teeth, which is 10 more teeth than adult humans and 12 more teeth than adult cats.
How many baby teeth do dogs have?
Puppies have 28 deciduous teeth, also known as primary, baby or milk teeth.
These puppy teeth are made up of:
- Twelve incisors
- Four canines
- Twelve premolars
“The deciduous teeth will appear in your puppy's mouth between 3 and 6 weeks,” Dr. Burch told The Dodo.
When do puppies lose their teeth?
The incisors are the first to fall out, which happens when your puppy is around 12 to 16 weeks old. This is followed by the canine teeth, which fall out when your puppy’s around 16 weeks old. The final puppy teeth to be lost are the premolars around 24 weeks.
“Any baby teeth still in the mouth after this time should be assessed by a veterinarian and removed as they are potentially damaging the eruption of the adult teeth,” Dr. Wigfall told The Dodo.
The four types of adult dog teeth
There are four types of permanent teeth your dog will develop after she loses her puppy teeth:
Incisors: The incisors are the front teeth of the upper and lower jaws, and your dog has a total of 12 incisors. “Dogs use their incisors to tear meat from the bone and groom themselves,” Dr. Burch said.
Canines: The canines are the four large teeth on the top and bottom of both sides of the mouth. “These teeth will also be referred to as the fangs,” Dr. Burch said. “Dogs will use canines to puncture prey and hold on tightly.”
Premolars: The premolars are next in line behind the canines, and dogs have 16 premolars in total. “Dogs use the premolars to shear their food and typically where they chew,” Dr. Burch said.
Molars: The molars are the final teeth in the back of the mouth. Dogs have four molars on the top jaw and six on the bottom jaw. “Dogs will use the molars for grinding and chewing,” Dr. Burch said.
How to take care of your dog’s teeth
Now that you know how many teeth your pup has and what they’re used for, it’s important that you keep them healthy.
Here’s how to do that:
Brush her teeth daily
According to both veterinarians, the most crucial thing you can do to keep your dog’s teeth healthy is to brush them daily. Regular brushing will remove the plaque (aka bacteria) that builds up on her teeth.
“I recommend using either a toothbrush made for pets or a finger brush to accomplish this task,” Dr. Burch said. “It is essential to find which one your pet enjoys the most to keep them from hating the brushing. Also, use flavored pet toothpaste to help your pet look forward to daily activity.”
Use dental supplements
Dental chews, water additives and prescription diets can be a great additive to your dental care plan. Just make sure the products you choose are on the Veterinary Oral Health Council Approved List.
If you’re interested in prescription dental care diets, contact your veterinarian to find the right one for your dog.
Keep in mind that dental supplements aren’t a substitute for brushing your dog’s teeth regularly.
“I would not recommend relying solely on these products to keep periodontal disease at bay,” Dr. Burch said. “These products are excellent to use in conjunction with daily brushing in maintaining oral health.”
Keep hard items away from your pup
You should make sure your dog doesn’t pick up any rocks or really hard bones as these are too tough for teeth and can cause fractures.
“Tooth fractures can be painful and not always easy to pick up [on] in the early days,” Dr. Wigfall said. “This is important because there is a time frame for being able to do advanced dental procedures, such as capping and root canal therapy, to save broken teeth. If these procedures are not done [when your dog is still healthy enough], the teeth will need to be removed.”
Have a yearly dental exam
According to Dr. Wigfall, all dogs should have a yearly dental examination, cleaning and radiographs under general anesthetic with a veterinarian to maintain optimal dental health.
“Professional cleanings and monitoring by your veterinarian can help keep your pet's dental health at its best,” Dr. Burch added. “The professional dental care I recommend includes dental X-rays, scaling and polishing while under general anesthesia.”
Your dog’s teeth are one of the most important and unique things about her. Learning exactly what they do and how to take care of them will help ensure she’s doing all of her favorite things (like chewing and gnawing) for as long as possible.
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