Reviewed and updated for accuracy on December 10, 2019, by Dr. Jennifer Coates, DVM
There’s enough to think about and keep track of when caring for a puppy—feeding, walking, training, housebreaking (and don’t forget playtime!)—that you might not give their teeth a whole lot of thought.
But in their first 8 months or so, puppies will develop two sets of teeth, and there’s more to caring for them than just making sure they don’t leave marks on your furniture legs.
Here’s all the information you need to know about those cute (and sharp!) little puppy teeth.
How Many Teeth Do Puppies Have?
In the beginning, none.
Like us, dogs are born toothless, but then puppies quickly develop a set of 28 “baby” teeth.
When Do Puppies Get Their Teeth?
“Puppy teeth erupt [emerge from the gums] starting at about 2 weeks of age, and are usually completely in by about 8-10 weeks old,” says Dr. Kris Bannon, DVM, FAVD, DAVDC, owner of Veterinary Dentistry and Oral Surgery of New Mexico.
The incisors often come in first, followed by the canine teeth and the premolars, although there can certainly be some normal variation between individuals.
When Do Puppies Lose Their Baby Teeth?
Puppies develop and lose this set of “baby” teeth just like humans do. These teeth, sometimes known as “milk teeth” or “needle teeth” and referred to as “deciduous teeth” by vets, eventually give way to permanent “adult” teeth.
“The first deciduous teeth are usually lost at about 4 months of age,” Dr. Bannon says. “The last of the baby teeth to fall out are usually the canines, and they are lost at about 6 months old.”
At What Age Do Puppies Get Their Permanent Teeth?
“The permanent teeth start to erupt as soon as the baby teeth start to fall out,” Dr. Bannon says.
Dr. Alexander Reiter, head of the Dentistry and Oral Surgery Service at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine, says that the permanent teeth can start to appear at 2 months:
2-5 months: incisors
5-6 months: canine teeth
4-6 months: premolars
4-7 months: molars (these only come in as part of the permanent set)
By the time a dog is 7 or 8 months old, they should have all of their permanent teeth—a total of 42 adult teeth in all.
How Long Do Puppies Teethe?
Teething is a months-long process. It starts when puppies are around 2 weeks old and their first baby teeth start to come in and usually ends at around 8 months of age, when all the adult teeth are fully erupted.
During this time, puppies will need to chew on appropriate items to relieve the discomfort associated with teething.
The chewing during a puppy’s teething period is also a way for them to explore their environment and relieve boredom.
How to Care for a Teething Puppy
Dr. Reiter says that the discomfort of puppy teething is often overdramatized.
If your puppy is still engaging in normal activities like eating, drinking, socializing, grooming and exploring, then there isn’t really a problem.
If they aren’t doing some of these things, he says, and the pain or discomfort is affecting his quality of life, then your puppy may need to see the vet.
“There is not much for the owners to do during the transition,” Dr. Bannon says. “The best thing is for the owners to supply good, safe chews so that the dog can teethe on appropriate items.”
Look for puppy teething toys that are soft and flexible and bend easily in your hand. “If it is too hard to bend, flex or break, it is too hard to give to the puppy,” Dr. Bannon says.
What to Do When a Puppy Starts Losing Teeth
Both Dr. Bannon and Dr. Reiter recommend letting the baby teeth fall out on their own, and advise against trying to pull loose teeth out.
The teeth have very long roots, Dr. Bannon says, and pulling a tooth can break a root, leaving part behind and leading to an infection.
However, something does need to be done in cases of retained deciduous teeth, where the permanent tooth is coming up in the same space that a baby tooth is still occupying.
“If the (baby) tooth remains in place while the adult tooth is coming in, this causes a disruption in the location of the adult tooth, causing an occlusion problem (a bad bite),” Dr. Bannon says.
“We also see periodontal disease which occurs very quickly when there is crowding,” says Dr. Bannon.
When a retained deciduous tooth is present, you should schedule an appointment with your veterinarian to have the baby tooth removed.
How to Take Care of Puppy Teeth
Dr. Reiter recommends getting your puppy used to you touching his mouth early on. “Raise their lips and touch their gums and teeth in a slow, playful way,” he says.
This will not only make it easier for you to introduce a dental care regimen and recognize any oddities or problems with their teeth or mouths, it’ll also prime your pup for their veterinarian’s oral examinations.
By: Matt Soniak
Featured Image: iStock.com/K_Thalhofer
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