How Many Teeth Do Dogs Have? Learn How to Care For Them

Do you know how many teeth your dog has? It's okay if you don't. Many dog owners are unaware of their dog's dental structure and how it affects their health. Read these helpful facts and tips about dogs' teeth and learn how to take the best care of them.

How Many Teeth Do Dogs Have? Learn How to Care For Them
Discover the secrets of your dog’s teeth and how to keep them in tip-top shape.

Photo by Pixabay

Your dog’s teeth are more than just tools for chewing and playing. They reveal a lot about overall health and wellness, too. But do you know how many teeth dogs have? And how to look after them properly? It’s okay if you don’t. You’re probably doing a great job caring for your pup. But there's always room for improvement. That’s why I’m sharing some useful facts and tips about your dog’s teeth. By reading this, you’ll learn how to keep your pet’s smile healthy and happy for years to come.

Why Your Dog’s Teeth Matter

Did you know that your dog’s teeth are not just for chewing food? They also serve other significant functions, such as:

  • Tearing meat from bones
  • Holding on to toys
  • Self-grooming
  • Communicating with other dogs

We should be interested about our dogs' teeth as dog owners because they can affect their general health. Poor dental care can cause issues like:

Some of these issues also affect other organs, such as the heart, liver, and kidneys. That’s why it’s so important to keep our dogs' teeth clean and healthy.

How Many Teeth Do Dogs Have?

Dogs have two sets of teeth in their lifetime: baby and adult teeth.

Baby Teeth

The first set of teeth that dogs have are called baby teeth, milk teeth, or deciduous teeth. They start to appear when puppies are two weeks old and are usually fully grown by eight to ten weeks.

Puppies have 28 baby teeth: 12 incisors, four canines, and 12 premolars. These teeth are sharp and needle-like, helping them chew soft food and toys. They also have weaker jaws than adult dogs, so they need these sharp teeth to tear meat from bones.

Baby teeth are temporary and fall out between three and eight months of age. This is when adult teeth grow in.

These sharp, elongated teeth are fangs, and they make dogs special. That's why they’re called canines!

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Adult Teeth

Adult teeth (also known as permanent teeth) are the second set of teeth for dogs. They replace baby teeth and last for life.

Adult dogs have 42 permanent teeth in total: 12 incisors, four canines, 16 premolars, and ten molars. These teeth are larger and stronger than baby teeth, and they have different functions:

  • Incisors: The tiny teeth at the front of the mouth are used for self-grooming and separating meat from bones.
  • Canines: The pointy teeth on both sides of the mouth are used to puncture and hold on to something.
  • Premolars: These teeth behind the canines are meant for chewing.
  • Molars: The flat teeth at the back of the mouth grind and crush.

Adult dogs have the same number of teeth. All dogs have 42 teeth, whether small, medium, or large.

How to Care for Your Dog’s Teeth

Now that you know how many teeth your dog has, you might wonder how to care for them. Here are some tips to keep your pup’s smile bright and healthy:

1. Brush Your Dog’s Teeth Regularly

Brushing your dog’s teeth prevents plaque and bacteria from causing dental problems. Use a soft toothbrush and a dog-friendly toothpaste. Human toothpaste is toxic for dogs. A human toothbrush is fine, but small breeds may need a baby toothbrush.

The main goal of brushing is to remove plaque from the gum line. Start by touching your dog’s teeth and gums without a brush. Then, use the toothbrush and toothpaste: brush teeth gently in circles, from front to back and top to bottom.

Brush your dog’s teeth 2-3 times a week or more. Daily brushing is best if you can and your dog likes it!

2. Give Your Dog Dental Treats or Chews

Dental treats or chews clean teeth and freshen breath by scraping off plaque and tartar. They also stimulate their gums and prevent boredom. Choose products bearing the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC) certification. These products have been tested and proven to reduce plaque and tartar.

Raw bones or carrots also act as natural toothbrushes. Be careful to avoid any objects that can damage their teeth, such as bones, antlers, rocks, ice, or rigid plastic. These can cause tooth fractures or abrasions that lead to infection and pain.

3. Supplement Dental Powder or Water Additives

Dental powder or water additives can reduce plaque and tartar buildup and freshen your dog’s breath by killing harmful bacteria in its mouth. They are usually flavored to suit your dog’s taste buds and easy to use. Follow the label instructions and add the recommended amount to your dog’s food or water bowl. These two products have worked well for me:

  • Oxyfresh Premium Pet Dental Care Kit is a water additive that you just add to your dog’s water bowl - it contains a patented ingredient called Oxygene that eliminates bad breath and fights tartar and plaque. This kit also includes a dental gel and finger brush to help you clean their teeth and gums.
  • ProDen PlaqueOff Powder is a dental powder that you can sprinkle on your dog’s food - it contains a natural seaweed that fights plaque-causing bacteria and supports healthy oral flora.

4. Prescription Dental Food or Supplements

The purpose of prescription dental foods or supplements is to prevent or treat dental diseases. They contain ingredients that reduce plaque and tartar, strengthen teeth and gums, or promote oral tissue healing. Sometimes, they have a texture or shape that cleans the teeth while chewing.

Your vet can advise you on the right option for your dog based on their needs and preferences. Some examples of prescription dental food or supplements are:

  • Hill’s Prescription Diet Dental Care
  • Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Dental
  • The Dental Health DH line by Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets
  • VetriScience Perio Support

5. Check Your Dog’s Mouth Regularly

By regularly inspecting your dog's mouth, dental disease can be identified early and avoided. Take your dog to the vet as soon as you can for a diagnosis and treatment if you notice any of the following symptoms.

  • Redness, swelling, bleeding, or receding gums
  • An unpleasant odor or drooling
  • Loose, broken, discolored, or missing teeth
  • Difficulty eating or drinking
  • Pawing at the face or mouth
Happy pup, healthy teeth! Check your dog's mouth frequently for signs of dental issues.

Photo by James Kovin on Unsplash

6. Regular Dental Checkups and Cleanings

A dental cleaning can prevent or treat dental disease and improve your dog’s mouth health and happiness. (It can also save you money by avoiding more costly problems.)

A vet can check and treat your dog’s mouth with scaling, polishing, or extractions. They will tell you how often your dog needs their teeth cleaned based on their age, breed, and dental history.

Most dogs need annual cleanings. But some need them more often, like small breeds, short-faced breeds, or dogs with mouth issues or crowded teeth. These breeds may benefit from cleanings every six months or more.

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Final Thoughts

Our dogs' teeth are important to their health and happiness. By knowing how many teeth they have and how to care for them, we can prevent oral disease and keep our pups smiling. Remember to brush your dog’s teeth regularly, give them dental treats or chews, add dental powder or water additives to their meals or drinks, ask your vet about prescription dental food or supplements, check their mouth for signs of trouble, and take them for regular checkups and cleanings. Your dog will thank you with a wagging tail and a healthy mouth.

Sources and Further Reading

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2023 Louise Fiolek

(Excluding for the Headline, this article ("story") has not been edited by MiBiz News and is published from a web feed or sourced from the Internet.)