Healthy, adult canines have 42 teeth. A variety of molars, incisors, canines and pre-molars allow the animal to tear, chew and grind bone when desired, according to Norma Bennett Woolf, an author published in the Dog Owner’s Guide.
In addition to eating, dogs use their permanent set of teeth to aid in grooming and defending themselves.
Types of Permanent Dog Teeth
Dogs start developing their permanent teeth at four months of age, with the final molars descending when the animal reaches six to seven months old. Most canines have six short incisor teeth on the top and six more on the bottom of their mouths. The long fang-like teeth most noticeable on a dog are called canines. There are two canines on top — at each end of the row of incisors — and two on the bottom, also hugging the row of incisors. Behind each canine tooth rests four permanent pre-molars. Set furthest back in the mouth are the canine’s molars. There should be 10 of these teeth total.
Viewing Permanent Dog Teeth
To view the development of the animal’s permanent teeth, gently hold the dog’s muzzle using both hands. With one hand on the top and the other on the lower jaw, gently pry the pet’s mouth open for a quick peek. Don’t make the animal hold the pose for more than a few seconds.
Repeating this movement a few times per day will make it increasingly easier to examine the animal’s permanent teeth. Reward the canine with a small treat each time it complies with an oral viewing.
Proper Development of Permanent Canine Teeth
When looking into the dog’s mouth at the permanent teeth, make sure none of the dog’s temporary teeth remain crowded between the new permanent teeth. This occasional dental problem can cause tooth misalignment, difficulties eating, early periodontal disease and swelling if not corrected by a veterinarian, explains Elizabeth-Jo Vickridge BVMS MACVSc, a veterinary dentist in Perth, Australia.
Extraction of the temporary teeth by a veterinarian can correct this dental problem. Home extraction is not recommended as the canine’s temporary teeth share the same ligament and root system as the permanent teeth and could cause the animal considerable pain if removed without the use of pain medication.
Caring for Permanent Canine Teeth
Tooth decay, gum disease and oral infections can affect dogs. During a recent check up with my own two dogs at the Singing Hills Animal Hospital in Sioux City, Iowa I was reminded of proper dental care for my pets.
To maintain good oral health and preserve the animal’s set of permanent teeth routine cleaning is advised. From tooth brushing with non-foaming canine-specific toothpaste to adding flavored oral cleansers to the animal’s water supply, dental care should be performed daily.
The easiest way to keep a canine’s teeth free of residual food is by offering the animal hard chew toys such as natural cow bones, crunchy dental treats, large bite kibble-style dog food and hard cornstarch-based bones.
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Dog Skin & Coat Health Tips
Can Dogs Take Aspirin for Arthritis Pain?
Are Bones Safe for Dogs?
Sources and Suggested Further Reading:
Norma Bennett Woolf, “Canine Teeth”, Dog Owner’s Guide
Dr. Elizabeth-Jo Vickridge BVMS MACVSc, “Retained Deciduous Canine Teeth”, Walampton Jack Russells