Just like children, puppies will eventually lose their baby teeth at any time. Puppies grow at an enormous rate and start getting their baby teeth anywhere from two to four weeks old. Teeth are living tissue, covered with enamel, which is the hardest substance in the dog’s body. Dentine is the next layer and the final layer is the core which is called the pulp, and contains blood vessels and nerves to nourish the teeth.
A puppy gets about 28 baby teeth (depending on size of dog and breed), while an adult dog can have 42 permanent teeth. The upper jaw holds about 20 teeth with the remaining 22 on the bottom jaw. By six weeks of age, a puppy has pretty much all their baby teeth (which is probably why mom starts weaning the pups from nursing). Those baby teeth are like little needles when biting down and nursing.
Because dogs grow at different rates and stages, the loss of baby teeth can vary. Larger dogs grow at a faster rate and start getting their permanent teeth at about four months of age whereas a smaller breed of dog may not get the permanent teeth until the age of six months or older. Puppies seem to continually go through some form of teething, whether erupting and/or replacing baby teeth up until about nine months of age. That is why it is necessary for puppies to have a lot of toys to chew on to help relieve the discomfort of growing teeth and sore gums. Nutritional treats and chew toys help to readdress any of your puppy’s destructive nature and redirect it onto “allowed” bones and toys.
There are occasions where an adult tooth grows in without a puppy tooth first falling out, called retained deciduous tooth. I am personally going through this with my small Chihuahua. To remedy the problem, he will have to get the puppy teeth pulled which I will have done when he is being neutered, so as to not put him under anesthesia more than once. This is not uncommon in many breeds of dog.
Dogs do not get cavities like humans do. They can however, develop other tooth problems. If your dog is strictly on a soft food diet, the foods can leave debris in gum pockets at the base of the teeth. This debris can lead to infections, softening the gums and causing them to recede. A clear symptom of this problem would be a foul odor coming from the mouth of your dog.
Canine oral care is imperative from the moment you bring your dog home, keeping those baby teeth in tip top shape. Your puppy will become used to a daily dental brushing long before those permanent teeth make their mark. Make sure that canine dental care is a top priority as a responsible pet parent.