Caring For Your Puppy's Teeth

Making sure your dog’s teeth are properly looked after will go a long way towards keeping him healthy for life.

Growing Puppy Teeth
Puppies, almost without exception, are born without teeth. They have 28 temporary teeth (called puppy teeth, milk teeth or deciduous teeth) that start coming in at about three to four weeks of age. They generally fall out between 14 and 30 weeks, when they are replaced by 42 adult teeth.

Puppy’s teeth are very sharp with the main purpose of starting their lives as carnivores when trying their first samples of meat. Some other hypotheses about this sharpness refer to the period of weaning and aiding the pups in learning the basics of bite inhibition.

First Teeth (3 to 6 weeks of age)

The first teeth to appear are the incisors teeth: six on the top and six on the bottom of the mouth. Following them, puppies will have the canines, four in total, two on the top and two on the bottom.  Subsequently between 3 to 6 weeks of age, the puppy will get, premolars that appear behind the canines. Puppies should have three on the top and three on the bottom of each side.

Adult teeth (8 to 16 weeks of age, finishing 8 months)

At approximately 8 weeks, the puppy's teeth start falling out as the adult teeth push the milk ones out of the way.

The sequence of the teeth’s fall is: first are the incisors around 12 to 16 weeks of the puppy’s age; then the canine teeth will fall out around 16 weeks and lastly, the pre-molars around 24 weeks.

At this age of 8 months, the puppy should have 42 teeth -12 incisors, 4 canines, 16 premolars and 10 molars.

Puppy dental care
Puppies have 28 temporary teeth (called puppy teeth or milk teeth) that start coming in at about four weeks of age. They generally fall out between 14 and 30 weeks, when they are replaced by 42 adult teeth.

If you have a puppy in this age range, keep the following in mind:

  • Puppies who are teething may eat slightly less and chew more. Hard rubber or rawhide toys made especially for dogs are a good investment to help prevent household damage.
  • Even though the puppy teeth don't normally last long enough to have any serious problems, it’s important to get your young puppy used to a dental care regime. Gently reach into his mouth and rub his gums and teeth. This will get him used to having someone's fingers in his mouth and will make future dental care much easier.
  • Gently rub your puppy's teeth with a soft cloth or a toothbrush approved for use with dogs and puppies.
  • Use a toothpaste that is specially formulated for dogs. These come in a variety of dog-friendly flavours. NEVER use human toothpaste.
  • If puppy teeth linger much longer than 30 weeks, take your puppy to the vet as these teeth may need to be removed.

General dental care for your dog
Continue with the oral hygiene regime you established when your dog was a puppy and support it by using dry, crunchy foods. This food scrapes against the teeth, reducing tartar build-up and generally keeping the teeth clean. To ensure your dog's health, he will need dental care on a regular basis. See your vet about a schedule.

Does your dog have a dental problem?
Problems that start with the teeth can have far-ranging consequences, from mere bad breath to problems eating or even infections that may reach the kidneys or heart.

That’s why it’s so important you monitor and maintain your dog’s dental health from the earliest days. In particular, look for:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Red, swollen and bleeding gums
  • Drooling
  • Blood in the saliva
  • Yellow-brown tartar at the gum line
  • Broken teeth
  • Foul breath

Easily the most common problem for dogs is the build-up of plaque, which can accumulate and harden to chalky calculus on the teeth. Left unchecked, this may eventually lead to inflammation of the gums, and the teeth may become infected and even fall out.

If your dog has any of the above signs, you should see your vet, both to treat any dental problems and to rule out other possible causes such as foreign bodies (such as small, sharp objects) and certain systemic illnesses.

Establishing a consistent dental care regime early on in his life is one of the best things you can do for your puppy’s health. And since his health and your happiness will invariably go hand-in-hand, you’ll be doing yourself a huge favour as well.

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