One of the biggest challenges in raising a puppy is dealing with all of the chewing they do. It can be a bit less frustrating if you consider that for almost the first year of his life, your puppy is dealing with some big changes going on in his mouth.
Dogs have two sets of teeth: 28 deciduous (baby) teeth, which will eventually be replaced by 42 permanent (adult) teeth. When a puppy is two or three weeks old, the deciduous teeth begin to erupt through the gums, starting with the incisors, followed by the canine teeth, and finally the premolars. All of the deciduous teeth should be in place by about eight weeks of age. These first teeth are small, and painfully sharp, as owners of young puppies know. This is part of the reason most mother dogs begin to wean their pups at 5 or 6 weeks of age.
By eight to twelve weeks of age, the roots of the deciduous teeth are starting to resorb and the teeth begin to loosen and fall out. This makes room for the permanent teeth to erupt normally. As with the deciduous teeth, the permanent incisors are the first to come in, followed by the canine teeth, and the premolars. The last teeth to erupt in the adult set are the molars. Puppies do not have molars, which is why there are fewer deciduous teeth. In most breeds of dogs, all of the permanent teeth should be present by about 8 months of age.
Just as you should begin an at-home dental care program as soon as you get your new puppy, this is also the time we recommend you start observing his teeth to make sure they are coming in normally. Any baby teeth that don’t fall out to make way for the adult teeth are called retained deciduous teeth. Having two teeth crowded into a space meant for one can cause dental problems. Food can be caught between the teeth and cause periodontal disease. The pressure from the retained deciduous tooth can push the adult tooth into an abnormal position, where it may push against the lip or gum causing an ulcer, or prevent the upper and lower teeth from coming together properly, which may cause chewing problems.
Retained deciduous teeth need to be removed surgically. Ideally, this should be done as soon as they are noticed, so that the adult tooth has the best chance of coming in normally. At the time the dog is neutered, typically around 4-6 months of age, any retained deciduous teeth should definitely be removed.
Did this post answer your questions about puppy teeth? Leave us a comment with any additional questions you’d like us to answer!
By Marty R. Smith, DVM
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Other Posts About Puppies:
- Puppy Nipping and Mouthing – The “ouch!” technique, a gentle way to help puppies learn to inhibit their bites.
- Puppy Socialization: The Critical First Month
- New Puppy: The 1st Few Days – Find out what to expect when you first bring a new puppy home, and learn a few tips that could help you start your puppy’s life out on the right paw.