Dogs are remarkable creatures. From the tip of their cold noses to the ends of their wagging tails, canine anatomy is as beautiful and graceful as it is unique and fascinating. The oral cavity of the dog is the source of many myths and misunderstandings. Your veterinarians at the Stonewall Veterinary Hospital, Dr. Brown, Dr. Kahlon and Dr. Wiebe, receive questions everyday about doggy dental health. In this article we have compiled the top 10 questions and answers. We hope this information will be timely and helpful for you and your canine companion.
1. How many teeth do dogs have?
Puppies have 28 teeth. Adult dogs have 42 teeth. This is a lot more than humans. Human children have 20 teeth and adults have 32.
2. When do dogs begin to lose their baby teeth?
Puppies start losing their teeth by 3-4 months of age. And by 6 months of age most of the permanent teeth have grown in.
3. Can you tell how old a dog is by looking at his teeth?
It depends. A puppy gets their baby incisors at 4-6 weeks. They get their adult incisors at 12-16 weeks. The baby canines (fangs) emerge at 3-5 weeks, and the adult canines by 12-16 weeks. The adult molars are in place by 6 months old. Once the adult teeth are in place by 6 months it’s anyone’s guess. So aging an adult dog must include more than simply checking his teeth. This is much different to horses whose teeth erupt over 5 years and wear at a somewhat established rate.
4. Can dogs regrow adult teeth if they lose them?
Unlike species such as sharks, dogs cannot regrow a lost or damaged tooth, which is just like a human. This is one reason it is so important to take good care of your dog’s teeth.
5. Are dog’s mouths really cleaner than human mouths?
No. Dog’s mouths contain bacteria just like human mouths do. In fact, because dog’s discover their world by putting things into their mouths they introduce new bacteria all the time. Dogs often get bad breath, swollen gums, and tartar build-up if they receive no dental care, just like humans.
6. Do dogs get cavities?
Unlike in humans, cavities are rare in dogs. This is because they eat a relatively low-sugar diet and the shape of their teeth is different. That being said dog’s do get tartar build-up, gum disease, and bad breath.
7. Do small or large dogs have more problems with their teeth?
Dogs both large and small can develop serious oral problems. Small dogs with short snouts and cramped jaws tend to have more issues with plaque, tartar and calculus buildup which can lead to painful mouths over time. Larger dogs tend to experience more traumatic injuries to teeth and gums, like broken teeth and worn tooth surfaces.
8. What is that really big tooth in the middle of my dog’s upper jaw?
The biggest tooth in a dog’s mouth is called the carnassial tooth. It is the upper fourth premolar. That tooth is the one dogs use to shear, crush and hold, which is why your dog grasps chew toys with the side of their mouth.
9. I heard that dogs can get mouth cancer. Is that true?
Unfortunately, yes. If you observe any swelling, lumps, or unusual colored tissue in your dog’s mouth have it examined by your veterinarian immediately.
10. I have tried many times to brush my dog’s teeth and they just won’t allow it. Are there other options for dental care of my dog’s teeth?
You are not alone! There are several options for dental health care in dogs. Chew treats approved by the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC) help remove plaque and tartar. Canine antimicrobial oral rinses are designed to kill nasty bacteria. Prescription dental diets combine a specific kibble design with the addition of plaque and tartar reducing ingredients. However, perhaps the single most important thing a pet parent can do for their dog’s dental health is to schedule professional dental cleanings under anesthesia.
By the age of 3, 80% of dogs have some sort of dental disease, which is why dental care of our best friends is so important. It is important to look inside your dog’s mouth once a week to make sure everything looks and smells healthy. A dog with a healthy mouth is an overall healthier, happier animal.