Anyone who has owned a puppy or a juvenile dog will be all too familiar with the ins and outs of teething, when the pup begins to grow in their permanent adult teeth and lose their baby teeth to make room for them. This is the time at which your pup or young dog will be obsessed with their mouths and teeth, exploring everything orally and always remaining on the lookout for potential things that they can chew!
A lot of good advice is written on how to get through the teething stage itself without losing your mind (and your cherished possessions!) but information on what actually happens during this stage and what is going on in your dog’s mouth can be somewhat harder to come by.
In this article, we will look at the basics of the process that occurs as your pup loses their baby teeth and grows in their adult set, and what you can expect to happen during this time. Read on to learn more.
When your pup is little, they possess 28 baby teeth in their mouths. These are referred to as deciduous teeth, and are a temporary set that are only present for a few months, before your pup starts to lose them and grow in their permanent teeth. Pups start to get their baby teeth at around 2-3 weeks of age, starting with the incisors, then the canine teeth, and eventually the premolars. All of the 28 baby teeth should be present and in place by around eight weeks of age.
The adult teeth of the dog total 42 individual teeth, and the baby teeth must first be lost in order to make room for these in the mouth! As early as eight weeks of age to twelve weeks of age, the gums of the baby teeth begin to reabsorb the teeth’s roots, causing the teeth themselves to loosen and fall out one by one.
This makes room for the permanent teeth, which replace the baby teeth in order of incisors, canine teeth, premolars and molars. By around the age of eight months, all of the baby teeth should have been shed, and the full set of adult teeth should be in place.
When your pups begin to lose their baby teeth, you may actually begin to find the shards of teeth within the home, particularly in food bowls, on chew toys, and sometimes on the coat of the dog or around their bed. Just as can happen when children lose their baby teeth, this may accompanied with blood spotting, and so it is not unusual to find spots of blood around the mouth, or on toys and food bowls.
The majority of the pup’s teeth are actually swallowed when your pups eat and swallow normally, and this is fine as the tooth material is digested naturally without a problem.
One thing that often accompanies the period of baby tooth loss and the development of the adult teeth is bad breath while your pup is growing in their adult teeth, causing a kind of sweet-sour smell to the breath that is not particularly pleasant. While the breath of any dog is hardly minty fresh, this smell is particularly pronounced when the teeth are growing in.
This is caused due to the bacteria that thrives in the mouth when the gums are sore or bleeding, leading to aerobic respiration of the bacteria cells, and an associated offensive smell.
Once your pup has all of their adult teeth in and the mouth has settled down, the smell diminishes along with the bacteria.
Adult dogs have more teeth than puppies, and generally these teeth all come in naturally and without any issues such as pain or poor development, and dental problems while the teeth grow in are relatively uncommon.
However, in some rare cases, problems can occur, such as if a baby tooth is retained, adult teeth grow in crooked, or the jaw is overcrowded. Some dogs (particularly breeds such as the bulldog) may have a pronounced under bite, as the structure of the jaw and the size and number of the teeth necessitate the lower jaw to realign in order to make room for the full set of teeth that they need.
Some other breeds of dog, including the hairless Chinese crested and the Chihuahua may suffer from a condition called a primitive mouth, which means that the tooth formation may not follow the normal pattern, and the shape of the teeth and jaws has to alter to allow for this.
While these problems cause an unusual shape to the inside of the mouth and the location of the teeth, they rarely cause problems in and of themselves while growing in the adult teeth. However, if your dog still does not have all of their teeth by nine months of age, seems to be going through a protracted teething period, or appears to have unusual tooth formation, it is worth getting them checked out by your vet.