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You have probably noticed that your new puppy has quite a set of chompers!
These fine teeth feel needle-sharp when they are playfully biting your hand or nipping at your ankles, but don’t worry. Your puppy won’t have these weapons forever.
These baby teeth will be replaced by a more substantial, less needle-like set, but what do puppy teeth look like when they fall out?
We all know that the teething process is pretty painful for babies and young children. Is the same true for puppies?
Yes, losing their baby teeth can cause a bit of discomfort, but they won’t keep you up throughout the night with crying. Nevertheless, there are a few things that you can do to make the process a bit better for them.
In this article, we will take you through everything you need to know about puppy teeth.
We’ll look at the terminology so that you know how to have a meaningful conversation with your vet and the normal timeline for most dogs from developing their baby teeth to their adult teeth. We’ll also go through the best way to look after their teeth at different stages of their lives.
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Canine Tooth Terminology
If you want to have a meaningful conversation with your vet about your dog’s teeth, it is a good idea to know some of the terminology so that you can converse about exactly what is happening and any specific concerns you might have. Below are some of the most important terms to know.
- Alveolus – This is the socket in which the tooth sits and provides a bed for the root.
- Brachycephalic – This is a particular shape of a dog’s head that is quite flat, like a pug or a bulldog. This will affect the formation of their teeth.
- Crown – The part of the tooth visible above the gum line
- Deciduous – These are the baby teeth that will eventually be replaced by adult teeth.
- Dolichocephalic – This is the shape of the head for dogs that have a long and narrow nose like the Collies and Greyhounds.
- Enamel – The covering over the crown of the tooth; the hardest substance in the body
- Gingiva – The gums (gingivitis is inflammation of the gums)
- Malocclusion – Improper alignment of the teeth
- Mandible – The lower jaw
- Maxilla – The upper jaw
- Mesaticephalic – This is the shape of a “medium length” dog’s head like a Labrador retriever or a dalmatian.
- Neck – The part of the tooth between the crown and the root located around the gum line
- Periodontal Ligament – A fibrous structure that holds the tooth in its socket
- Pulp – The fleshy part at the center of the tooth that is comprised of soft tissue, cells, blood vessels, and nerve endings
- Root – The part of the tooth under the gum line
Now I challenge you to go into your next dentist appointment and use some of these big words when talking about your own teeth 🙂 j/k
The little teeth at the very front of your dog’s mouth are their incisors. These are flanked by canines on the upper and lower jaw, so they should have four. Behind these are the premolars, and then at the very back of the mouth are molars. Dogs don’t get wisdom teeth, so they don’t need them extracted!
Generally speaking, your dog should have 12 incisors, four canines, 16 premolars, and 10 molars. The number of teeth a dog has doesn’t tend to change based on its size, only the size of the teeth changes. Puppies have fewer teeth as they only have the incisors, canines, and 12 premolars.
Puppy Teeth Timeline
Puppies grow up at different speeds depending on their breed, so they won’t all have the same tooth development timeline. Most puppies will start to get their baby teeth at the same time, but losing their baby teeth and growing in their adult set can take different amounts of time depending on their breed.
Nevertheless, below is a general timeline for puppy tooth development that fits most dogs. Always research your dog’s specific breed to know what is normal for them if you have any concerns.
For most puppies, this is when their first teeth start to come in. They should still be with the breeder and their mother at this point, and as their teeth grow their mother will be less inclined to feed them. These sharp baby teeth can irritate her skin, but she’ll continue nursing until around eight weeks.
By this time they should have a complete set of puppy teeth, which for most dogs is 28 little chompers. You’ll often see the mother walking away and the little ones trailing after her for a feed, and at this time the breeder will probably start to introduce some moist puppy food into their diet.
Up until this time, your puppy will have been enjoying their baby chompers, but now they will start to fall out! This can be quite a painful time, as the baby teeth fall out as new adult teeth grow underneath and push the old teeth out of place. Dogs can benefit from a soft chew toy for some pain relief at this time.
This is also a good time in your puppy’s life to get them used to the idea of you touching their teeth for cleaning and checkups. You can touch your dog’s mouth inside and out and train them not to nip you or pull away, but instead to let you do what needs to be done as quickly and painlessly as possible.
Their new teeth won’t all grow in at the same time; you can expect the incisors to come in first, followed by their canine teeth. Next are the premolars, and then the molars which they don’t have in their puppy set.
It can take quite a while for all of your puppy’s baby teeth to fall out and for them to get a complete set of adult teeth, but this usually happens by the time they are about six months old. Most adult dogs have 42 teeth.
If you can still see baby teeth in their mouth at this point, now is the time to check in with your vet to see if everything is on track.
What Do Puppy Teeth Look Like When They Fall Out?
When your puppy’s teeth start to fall out, you may find what looks like small grains of rice around your home. They look like this because puppy teeth don’t always fall out whole.
You may not see as many puppy teeth around as you might imagine, as your dog will also probably swallow quite a few of them. This is completely normal and won’t do your dog any harm. They fall out in small enough pieces not to be a choking risk, and they get broken down in the stomach and digested.
How To Care For Puppy Teeth
Your puppy’s baby teeth don’t need that much care, since they won’t have them for long before they get replaced by an adult set. You will want to keep their gums healthy, though, and you should also start to train your puppy about tooth brushing from a young age so that it is routine once they are an adult dog.
From the time that they are about 12 weeks old, you can start giving attention to their mouth so that they can get used to it.
Start by gently massaging their gums with clean fingers so that they become comfortable with being touched there. Give them lots of rewards like hugs and snuggles when they handle this well.
Once they are comfortable with that intrusion, you can introduce the toothbrush and toothpaste. Start with a dental brush that fits on your finger to repeat the sensation they already know, and then graduate to other products.
While their teeth are changing, they might suffer quite a bit of discomfort in their mouths and some dental toys can help. Rubbing their gums on a hard or slightly abrasive surface can provide considerable relief. Plus, if you don’t provide chew toys they will probably just chew whatever is around.
If they are in particular pain, a cooling sensation can also help. It can be a good idea to put their favorite teething toy in the fridge or freezer for a while before giving it to them.
Caring For Your Dog’s Adult Teeth
Once your puppy’s adult teeth come through, you will probably want to step up your dental care regime. If something happens to these teeth, they won’t be getting any more.
While the process might seem tedious, it is not challenging to look after your dog’s teeth.
Just like with your teeth, a healthy mouth starts with regular brushing. While your dog might not tolerate having its teeth brushed daily, an absolute minimum of once a week is required though vets recommend three times a week.
In between, you can use dental chew toys that are designed to keep your dog’s teeth clean through abrasion to prevent cavities. You can find the best dental chews on Chewy here.
In addition to this regular cleaning that you do yourself, you should also book regular professional cleanings with your dentist or groomer. This can double as a check-up that can alert you to problems early.
Aside from this, it is important to feed your dog appropriately. Just like with humans, what you eat can degrade your teeth and you want to avoid too much of anything that is too gritty or has excess sugar. Moreover, good nutrition will make them and their teeth more resilient.
How Many Dogs Have Dental Problems?
Why is it so important to take such good care of your dog’s teeth? Surely dogs never brushed their teeth in the wild. Well, around 80% of dogs have active dental problems by the age of three.
This is largely due to the modern doggy diet. Dry dog food is much more likely to get stuck between teeth and cause decay than the fresh meat that dogs would have eaten in the wild. Mass-manufactured dog foods also contain more additives that are likely to affect your dog’s teeth.
While switching your pup to a raw food diet might help, it is probably much easier to commit to a regular dental care routine.
Which Dog Breeds Are Most Prone To Dental Problems?
As with most health concerns, some breeds of dogs are more prone to dental issues than others. Here are some of the dog breeds with the worst teeth!
Collies often have a pronounced overbite which can result in uneven wear and gum damage as a result of tooth impact.
Dogs like pugs, which have squashed faces, are more likely to develop gum disease than other dogs. Also, they often have upper and lower teeth that don’t align properly and can cause pain when they close in on one another. Their small faces also mean overcrowded mouths, so food is more likely to get trapped and start to cause decay.
Yorkies and other toy breeds often end up with snaggle teeth and retain baby teeth as their adult teeth grow in. This can be a problem because they form food traps that cause faster decay.
It is often recommended to have these baby teeth removed, but that also can be a problem if their adult teeth aren’t fully formed, as it can inhibit their chewing ability.
Chihuahuas are another small dog breed that just doesn’t have enough room in their mouths for all those teeth. This results in plaque build-up, which inevitably leads to gum disease.
Sausage dogs don’t just have an elongated body, they also have an elongated snout. This can lead to periodontal pockets.
This is where bacteria gets trapped between the gum and the tooth, causing gum tissue to break away from the tooth and allow decay on the surface of the teeth. Infections can quickly make their way down to the roots of the teeth.
Do puppies swallow their baby teeth?
It is very common for puppies to swallow their baby teeth. They will often break away from your dog’s mouth while they are eating, and then get consumed along with the rest of their food.
This is harmless to them and no problem. If you do see their teeth around, they are often in pieces that look like small grains of rice.
What soothes a teething puppy?
Chew toys can provide a lot of comfort to teething puppies. While it might seem counterintuitive to encourage them to use their teeth, it is a bit like scratching an itch. If they are in particular pain, cold can help. Keep their toys in the fridge or soothe their gums with a little bit of ice.
Do dogs get sick with teething?
Teething can cause your dog to feel unwell, resulting in an upset stomach and decreased appetite. The first sign that something is not right may be an unusual stool. Give them soft, easy-to-chew food at this time, be patient, and expect them to sleep a bit more than usual.
Do dogs need anesthesia for tooth extraction?
Whether your dog will need anesthesia for a tooth extraction depends on the situation. If your dog has a rotten tooth with a weak root, extraction may be quick and not require anesthesia. If the problem is with one of the deep-rooted molars, your vet is likely to recommend it.
Just like humans, puppies go through a dental transformation through the early months of their lives during which they grow a baby set of teeth. These then fall out to make room for an adult set.
While seeing your pup’s teeth falling out can be a bit distressing, it is completely normal until they are about six months of age. Don’t worry if you don’t see too many teeth. Your dog has a tendency to swallow them as they fall out, which is completely safe and normal.
It is important to monitor your dog’s teeth throughout their lives, as today’s dogs are prone to dental problems. This is largely related to changes in their diet, so their teeth need more attention than ever.
While it will probably take a while for your dog to get used to the idea of you playing around in their mouths, once they are properly trained they might actually enjoy it, and teeth cleaning time can become a bonding experience for the two of you.
How do you care for your dog’s teeth?
Share your experience and advice with the community in the comments section below.
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